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Audrey Doe v Bobby Jindal

3-29-2012 Louisiana:

Audrey Doe v Bobby Jindal
851 F.Supp.2d 995 (2012)

At issue in this case is a first and defining principle of our struggle as a nation that finally resolved in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution: Equal Protection before the Law. As two writers1 have observed:
The idea was to distinguish between legislation for the common benefit and legislation that benefitted or burdened the few.... It was an appeal to notions of reciprocity in governance: law's generality was important, not simply in a formal sense but because it forced lawmakers to stand in the shoes of those they represented. The principle of class legislation was terraced in both directions รข€” it not only aimed to prevent class privilege but also invidious oppression.
Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment instructs that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

At the outset, it must be underscored that the issue presented in this case is not about approval or disapproval of sexual beliefs or mores. It is about the mandate of equality that is enshrined in the Constitution.

In Louisiana, the solicitation of oral or anal sex for compensation can be prosecuted under two different statutes: the solicitation for compensation provision of the Prostitution statute, and the Crime Against Nature by Solicitation statute.2 Nine anonymous plaintiffs, all of whom were convicted of violating Louisiana's Crime Against Nature by Solicitation statute based on their agreement to engage in oral sex for compensation prior to August 15, 2011, bring this civil rights suit. They challenge that statute's requirement that, as a result of their conviction, they must register as sex offenders under Louisiana's sex offender registry law. They complain that if, instead, they had been convicted of solicitation of sex for money under the state Prostitution law, they would not have been required to register as sex offenders.3 It is the State's more lenient treatment of those convicted under the solicitation provision of the Prostitution statute, they urge, compared to those convicted under the Crime Against Nature by Solicitation statute, that anchors their civil rights claim in which they advance their constitutional challenge under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They sue several State officials and one municipal official.

... ... ...

For all of these reasons, stripped of all political theater and with a concern solely to fidelity to the simple and clear injunction of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court finds that the plaintiffs have demonstrated that the record, taken as a whole, leads to no rational basis for what the state legislature has done.30 The record discloses no genuine dispute as to any material fact: the plaintiffs have shown that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law that they have been deprived of equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Accordingly, the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. The plaintiffs shall submit a proposed judgment within five days consistent with this Order and Reasons.

Hundreds to be stricken from Louisiana sex offender registry after class-action suit's settlement

6-13-2013 Louisiana:

Hundreds of people who were convicted of soliciting oral or anal sex for money under Louisiana's "crime against nature by solicitation" law will have their names removed from the state's sex offender registry following the settlement of a class-action lawsuit.

U.S District Judge Martin Feldman on Tuesday approved the settlement agreement between the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell's office.

Feldman ruled last year that nine plaintiffs who were convicted of the offense must be stricken from the registry. Plaintiffs' lawyers argued the ruling should be applied to roughly 700 others in the same position.

Alexis Agathocleous, one of the lead plaintiffs' lawyers on the case, said the registration requirement for people convicted of violating the law disproportionately punished black women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"We are gratified that the state has agreed to vindicate the rights of hundreds of people who continued to be unconstitutionally registered as sex offenders," he said in a statement.

The settlement doesn't apply to people convicted of soliciting sex from a minor or anyone who was convicted of another sex offense subject to registration. State officials have up to 30 days to make an initial determination of who is entitled to be removed from the registry.

Feldman ruled last year that state lawmakers had no "rational basis" for requiring people to register as sex offenders if they were convicted of violating the law. The judge said the plaintiffs wouldn't have had to register if instead they had been convicted of soliciting sex for money under the state prostitution law.

The state Legislature amended the 200-year-old law in 2011 so that anyone convicted of a "crime against nature by solicitation" no longer will be required to register. But the legislative change didn't apply to hundreds who already were registered.

During a hearing in December 2012, a lawyer representing Caldwell's office argued that the recent change in state law leaves the potential class members without any valid claims. Feldman refused to dismiss the class-action suit, however, and expressed frustration at the pace of the process for deciding whether people already had a right to have their names removed from the registry

"I am incredulous and very concerned about why this process has been dragged out against the backdrop of politics for so long," the judge said. ..Source.. by MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

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