Doe v. Harris

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: 11-18-2014
  • Case #: 13-15263; 13-15267
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bybee for the Court; Circuit Judge Schroeder and Senior District Judge Timlin
  • Full Text Opinion

Content-neutral restrictions on protected speech must not burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.

The Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act “added provisions to California’s sex offender registration requirements related to Internet usage by persons subject to the Act.” The Act requires sex offenders to provide “‘[a] list of any and all Internet identifiers established or used by the person’ and ‘[a] list of any and all Internet service providers used by the person.’” The Act also established a 24-hour written notice requirement to law enforcement of any changes to these lists. A represented “class of registered sex offenders who regularly use the Internet to advocate anonymously on behalf of sex offenders and to comment on news articles, forums, and blogs” filed suit once the Act took effect claiming “the Act violates their First Amendment rights.” The representative “moved for a temporary restraining order” while the district court considered the representative’s “motion for a preliminary injunction.” The district court granted the preliminary injunction after finding the Act was “not narrowly tailored to serve the government’s important interest” and “that loss of First Amendment freedoms is an irreparable injury.” The State appealed, and the Ninth Circuit reviewed the “preliminary injunction for abuse of discretion.” The panel evaluated the Act’s constitutionality using the “intermediate level of scrutiny applicable to content-neutral restrictions that impose an incidental burden on speech.” The panel considered whether the Act’s requirements “burden[] substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.” The panel found that the Act “clearly intended to serve a legitimate interest” but determined “the Act unnecessarily chills protected speech.” The panel concluded that the Act’s reporting requirement was ambiguous and the Act had insufficient safeguards for the information reported. The panel also found the 24-hour written notice requirement “onerous and overbroad.” The panel therefore affirmed the district court’s preliminary injunction. AFFIRMED.

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