What’s the difference?

August 4, 2008
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This post comes from IL reporter Michael Hoskins: 

On one hand, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana argues against blanket, government-imposed rules restricting where sex offenders can live and places those registered individuals can visit. But when a private homeowners association takes a similar move, the line gets blurry and the civil liberties group says there isn’t much it can do. Why? An HOA is a private entity, not a governmental body treading on a person’s constitutional rights.

The issue is coming up in Greenwood, where an HOA for a 175-home subdivision has taken a step believed the first of its kind in the state: amending its governing documents to ban offenders from living in that community’s homes. Communities in Texas and Kansas City have put similar policies in place. Now, as part of the covenants, the association can evict any sex offender who buys a home there, any current resident who’s convicted of a felony sex crime in the future, or any owner who rents or sells to a sex offender. More than three-fourths of the residents voted in favor of the measure.

The legal director of the ACLU of Indiana points out that while this doesn’t appear to be a constitutional issue since offenders aren’t part of any protected class, this is a “terrible idea and policy.” Residency restrictions are already in place for registered offenders, and taking actions like this could push courts to view this as some sort of de facto punishment if a legal challenge arises, Ken Falk says.

A common theme among all these restrictions and bans on registered sex offenders is that each has a noble purpose at the heart: to protect the safety of children. But courts are wrapped up in many of these controversies, including issues regarding who’s required to register, what restrictions can be put in place, and how these regulations can be enforced. The legal community doesn’t have consensus, all the while more restrictions are being implemented. What’s the difference in this case from the others, and should it matter whether it’s a private or public entity imposing a restriction?
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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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