Federal court OKs Oklahoma licenses marked for sex offenders
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a 2007 Oklahoma law that allows the state to identify aggravated sex offenders on their driver’s licenses.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Ray Carne, who was convicted of sexually abusing a child, The Oklahoman reported.
Carne is scheduled to be released from prison next year and must register as a sex offender. He argues in the lawsuit that the state law would lead to him “being ostracized from many aspects of civil society.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma also filed a brief in support of Carney’s argument.
“The United States Constitution does not allow the State of Oklahoma to select a disfavored group for discrimination and then compel all members of that group to serve as mobile billboards advertising their own alleged repulsiveness,” wrote attorney Brady Henderson.
But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law doesn’t constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The court also ruled that the law doesn’t treat Carney unfairly compared to sex offenders who don’t receive “aggravated” status, which applies to convictions on charges including rape, incest or child abuse when sexual abuse is involved.
“There are several rational reasons why Oklahoma enacted this law, principally among them the safety of the community,” wrote Justice Paul J. Kelly Jr. “We therefore find that the license requirement is not unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Carney also argued that the identification on his license would be compelled speech, violating the First Amendment. However, he didn’t follow the necessary procedures to the engage the appeals court on the issue and the argument was tossed out.
Carney’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment by the newspaper.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com