A city ordinance successfully pushed just months ago by Democratic prosecutor candidate Melina Kennedy and city-county councilor Mary Moriarty-Adams (D), which bars certain sex offenders from city parks and other places frequented by children, has already been set aside from enforcement by Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Young, a Clinton-appointed judge, believes the plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits of their argument that the ordinance is unconstitutional support imposing a preliminary injunction against its enforcement. Based upon his initial findings and conclusions of law, the City of Indianapolis doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning this case.
The case, John Does v. City of Indianapolis, was initiated by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several unnamed sex offenders affected by the ordinance soon after it was enacted last May. Judge Young found that the jurisdictional reach of the ordinance's ban was so extensive that it essentially banishes the affected sex offenders from the city. Many other offenders would essentially be deprived of their right to vote because so many polling places in Marion County are located in places which are off-limits to the offenders. If that wasn't enough, Young also concluded that the ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on ex post facto laws, which prevents retroactive punishment that inflicts greater punishment than when the offender was convicted. Oh, and he also found that it violated the 5th Amendment's protection from double jeopardy, which prohibits successive punishment. And I almost forget, he also found it void for vagueness.
Some of Judge Young's key findings are quite instructive to understanding his sound ruling today:
There are few, if any, areas in the City of Indianapolis that can be traveled through or into that will not result in the traveler passing within 1000 feet of public playgrounds, recreation centers, bathing beaches, swimming pools, or sports fields or sports facilities . . .
For example, it is impossible to travel on Interstate 70, either East or West, Interstate 65, either North or South, or on the entire length of Interstate 465 without passing within 1000 feet of public playgrounds, recreation centers, bathing beaches, swimming pools, or sports fields or sports facilities . . .
It is impossible to travel on the main local streets, Washington Street (either East or West Washington) or Meridian Street (either North or South) without passing within 1000 feet of public playgrounds, recreation centers, bathing beaches, swimming pools, sports fields or sports facilities . . .
There were 503 separate polling places in Marion County for the 2006 primary election and 128 of these were in public schools, including 108 public schools that had public playgrounds, recreation centers, bathing beaches, swimming pools, or sports fields or sports facilities . . .
Their very rights of physical movement have been restricted to such an extent that they are effectively banished from the City of Indianapolis . . .
Thank God for we have a judicial branch to put the brakes on overzealous politicians who would deprive Americans of their fundamental rights. Kennedy, Moriarty-Adams, Mayor Peterson and every city-county councilor who voted for this ordinance should be ashamed of themselves. But they won't be. Instead, they will waste tens of thousands of dollars fighting a losing case, all to prove to voters just how much they are against sex offenders.