Reason Magazine reports that the Justice Department is requiring a man to register as a sex offender over a consensual relationship he had many years ago with a 16-year-old, even though his conviction was expunged, making it impossible for him to register with the state of California:
Twenty-six years ago, when he was 23, a California man was convicted of a crime involving sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl. The federal government says he therefore must register with the state as a sex offender. But California says he can’t, because the state subsequently expunged his record and issued a “certificate of rehabilitation,” meaning he is no longer covered by California’s registration requirements. For failing to do the impossible, he faces the risk of federal prosecution, which could send him to prison for up to 10 years.
According to a federal lawsuit that the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) filed this week, that Kafkaesque conundrum, the result of new Justice Department regulations that took effect in January, violates the separation of powers, which prohibits executive-branch agencies from writing the laws they enforce. The complaint, which identifies the main plaintiff as “John Doe,” also argues that the department’s regulations violate the right to due process, since they hold him criminally responsible for something he cannot control, and the First Amendment, since they require him to report his internet usernames, which would prevent him from engaging in anonymous online speech—including commentary about the maddening situation in which he finds himself.
Doe joined the U.S. Marines when he was 17. Six years later, he committed the crime that the Justice Department says requires him to stay on California’s sex offender registry even though he no longer qualifies for it under state law. The lawsuit describes the incident as “a consensual but inappropriate encounter” that “did not involve sexual intercourse.” But since the teenager was two years younger than California’s age of consent, that encounter resulted in criminal charges. Doe pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of sexual battery, which required him to register as a sex offender.
More at this link.