In 2002, 21-year-old Lester Packingham had pled guilty to statutory rape after having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl he claimed he was dating. At the time, he was unaware of the victim’s year. Then seven years later after his conviction, with a clean record, Packingham joined the Facebook community.
In 2010, he posted a message rejoicing in the dismissal of a traffic ticket. “Man God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismissed the ticket before court even started?...Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks JESUS!”
Unfortunately, he also committed a felony. North Carolina police were then notified, Packingham’s home was searched. Despite finding no evidence of sexual abuse or any sex crime, he was placed under arrest.
Packingham v. North Carolina
At the beginning of March, the United States Supreme Court began the case – which was primarily about whether the use of social media by registered sex offenders is unconstitutional under the First Amendment. This provision of the US Constitution that protects freedom of speech.
NC officials argue for the social-media ban, stating it is necessary to prevent sex offenders from having access to online websites and apps that are accessible to minor users. On the other hand, Packingham’s defense attorneys contend that the law prohibits conduct unrelated to its preventative function in an unfair manner – since Packingham had no contact with children.
A majority of the Supreme Court seemed prepared to strike down the law.
On June 19th – in a unanimous decision – the Supreme Court ruled today that the law prohibiting sex offenders from using social media was unconstitutional.