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Name: Doe v. Harris
Case #: 13-15267
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 11/18/2014

District Court did not abuse its discretion by granting a preliminary injunction against the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act because the Act likely violates sex offenders’ First Amendment rights. In 2012, voters passed the CASE Act, which requires registered sex offenders to provide law enforcement with a list of all their Internet service providers and Internet identifiers, and to notify law enforcement within 24 hours any time they add or change service providers or identifiers. (Pen. Code, §§ 290.014, 290.015.) The day the CASE Act went into effect, a class of registered sex offenders filed suit in federal court asserting that the Act violated their First Amendment rights to free speech. The district court granted their motion for a preliminary injunction. The State appealed. Held: Affirmed. The class of registered sex offenders met the standard for a preliminary injunction. First, the registered sex offenders will likely succeed on the merits of their First Amendment claim. The CASE Act is a content-neutral regulation of speech and is subject to intermediate scrutiny. Although the Act serves a significant government interest (preventing online sex offenses), it is not narrowly tailored because the reporting requirement will chill more speech than necessary to accomplish that interest. The Act is ambiguous as to what registrants are required to report, the standards for releasing Internet identifying information to the public are inadequate to constrain the discretion of law enforcement, and the 24-hour reporting requirement is particularly onerous. The other factors for issuing a preliminary injunction (irreparable harm, balance of equities, and public interest) also weigh in favor of enjoining the CASE Act because the loss of First Amendment freedoms, even for a short period, is an irreparable harm, and the protection of First Amendment freedoms is in the public interest.