7th Circuit ruling will force registrants from their homes

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of a challenge to Illinois’ sex offender residency restriction law. As NARSOL reports, the decision means at least two men, and likely more people will be forced from their homes.

By Larry . . . NARSOL is disappointed to report that the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a decision affirming a lower court’s decision that will permit the Chicago Police to retroactively evict registered citizens from their homes to comply with the state’s residency restrictions. In Vasquez v. Foxx, 17-1061 (7th Cir. 2018) two registered citizens will now be required to comply with the state’s residency restriction because Illinois law provides that “a child sex offender may not knowingly live within 500 feet of a school, playground, or child-care center.” See 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(b)(5) (b)(10). 

The issue underlying the challenge was a 2008 amendment that prohibits child sex offenders from knowingly residing within 500 feet of a “day care home” or “group day care home.” (Act of Aug. 14, 2008, Pub. Act No. 95-821, 2008 Ill. Laws 1383) The   lawsuit alleged that: (1) the 2008 amendment to the residency statute imposes retroactive punishment in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause; (2) application of the amended statute to them amounted to an unconstitutional taking of their property in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause; and (3) they asserted two due-process claims, one procedural and one substantive: they complained that the statute is enforced without a hearing for an individualized risk assessment and is not rationally related to a legitimate state interest. 

The Seventh Circuit affirmed the trial court’s rejection of the lawsuit on the pleadings. The amended statute is neither impermissibly retroactive nor punitive. The Takings Clause claim was unexhausted in the state courts and the amendment was adopted before they acquired their homes, so it did not alter their property-rights expectations. The procedural found that the due process claim fails because there is no right to a hearing to establish a fact irrelevant to the statute. And the Appeals Court concluded by finding that the law “easily satisfies rational-basis review.”

The decision could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the decision here.

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