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Sex offenders ask court to revive Idaho registry lawsuit

May 6, 2019

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A group of 134 sex offenders have asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court to revive their lawsuit against the state of Idaho because they say they were denied their constitutional rights when they were forced to register as sex offenders.

The group, referred to only as John Does 1 through 134 in the lawsuit, notified U.S. District Judge David Nye on Sunday that they would ask the appellate panel to review Nye’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit.

The group originally filed the lawsuit in 2016, contending that Idaho laws requiring them to register as sex offenders for life violated their right to due process, subjected them to double jeopardy and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment among other problems.

Some plaintiffs said rules requiring them to stay at least 500 feet from schools prevented them from exercising their religion because their preferred churches were near a school. Others said they were convicted of misdemeanors or lesser sex offenses but years later were forced to register as sex offenders when lawmakers decided to reclassify the crimes as felonies.

Nye rejected the lawsuit last year because he said there are several instances in which the Sex Offender Registry Act is valid and constitutional, and the group failed to show the current laws caused them actual harm.

But he also gave the group the option to amend the complaint to show possible harm. They did, but on April 5, 2019 the judge rejected the lawsuit again, saying it still fell short.

In the April ruling, Nye said though it was clear some of the plaintiffs had faced significant hardship under the sex offender reporting rules — including trouble finding employment and housing, difficulties attending church and burdens on travel — their claims simply weren’t supported by case law.

Similar arguments against sex offender registry rules have been rejected by courts in several states and appellate circuits.

“Although the court sympathizes with the Does and recognizes they have endured substantial obstacles, the challenges the Does allege are the same as those raised by sexual offenders ... across the country that have already been considered and rejected by the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court,” Nye wrote.