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Georgia high court rejects sex offender residence law

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Georgia [official website] Wednesday unanimously overturned [opinion, PDF; summary, PDF] a state law that prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other areas where children gather. Civil rights groups had criticized the law [legislative materials] as overly strict, saying that the state's roughly 11,000 registered sex offenders would have been barred from living in almost any residential area. State Rep. Jerry Keen (R) [official profile], who sponsored the law, expressed disappointment in the court's ruling and said that state lawmakers may readdress the issue in January.

The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) [advocacy website], which represented the plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit [complaint, PDF; SCHR materials] against the law, had argued that the law violated several constitutional provisions and at least one federal statute. The law was passed last year and went into effect on July 1, 2006, but in June 2006 US District Judge Clarence Cooper [official profile] issued a temporary restraining order [brief in support, PDF; JURIST report] that prevented the state from enforcing the law against eight plaintiffs, and then later extended the restraining order to all registered sex offenders in the state [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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