Federal judge deems Connecticut’s internet disclosure law unconstitutional

  • What prompted the challenge to Connecticut’s internet disclosure law?
  • What is the basis of the ruling declaring the law unconstitutional?
  • Why did Judge Meyer decline to extend relief to all who are affected by the law?
  • What are the potential consequences of this ruling for others in Connecticut?
  • What did the judge who struck down a similar provision in Nebraska say about Nebraska registry law?

In a recent decision, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer ruled that Connecticut’s requirement for convicted sex offenders to provide all their internet identifiers to state police is unconstitutional. 

The decision emerged from the case of James Cornelio, a former New York lawyer and person forced to register who is now living in Connecticut. He challenged the state’s internet disclosure law.

Cornelio moved to Connecticut after serving time in New York for various charges related to sexual offenses. In 2018, Cornelio was arrested in Connecticut for failing to disclose an email address, as mandated by a 2007 Connecticut law.

Judge Meyer ruled that while the state has a legitimate interest in preventing criminal activities on the internet, the law in its current form fails to advance this interest effectively. The judge stated that the law burdens free speech under the First Amendment by requiring disclosure of all internet identifiers.

While the judge barred the police from enforcing the law against Cornelio, he declined to extend the relief to all others affected by the law. Meyer’s decision rested on the fact that Cornelio did not bring the case as a class action, and the judge was hesitant to grant relief to individuals who were not parties before him.

This ruling could have significant implications in Connecticut. Those convicted under this law may seek legal redress, and it may prompt lawmakers to reconsider the constitutionality of the internet disclosure requirement.

In 2012, a federal judge struck down an attempt in Nebraska to impose a similar requirement. In a ruling in which he described Nebraska registry law as “both wrongheaded and counterproductive,” U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf prevented Nebraska from doing what Connecticut was doing.

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