Supreme Court to review sex offender registration law

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 11, 2013 4:11 PM

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether the government can require a former federal sex offender to register a change of address even after he had served his sentence and been unconditionally freed from custody.

In a brief order, the court agreed to hear the government's appeal of a July 2012 decision overturning the conviction of Air Force veteran Anthony Kebodeaux for violating the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006.

SORNA provides what the U.S. Department of Justice calls a comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification, and was designed to close potential gaps and loopholes.

While in the military, Kebodeaux at age 21 had consensual sex with a 15-year-old. He was sentenced in 1999 to three months in prison, which he served, and was no longer under federal control by the time SORNA was enacted.

In August 2007, he registered with authorities in El Paso, Texas, as a sex offender but never updated his registration after moving later that month to San Antonio. Kebodeaux was later apprehended, and sentenced to one year in prison after a bench trial.

But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the conviction and found the registration requirement unconstitutional.

Congress, it said, was not entitled to assert "unending criminal authority" over Kebodeaux because of his earlier criminal sexual activity.

The Justice Department appealed, saying Congress acted within its power in subjecting Kebodeaux to the SORNA registration requirement. It also said voiding of an "important" act of Congress warranted the court's review.

A decision is expected by the end of June.

The case is U.S. v. Kebodeaux, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-418.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)