Friday, June 10, 2022

Christian Mission's Suit Over Sex Offender Statute Is Moot

In City Union Mission, Inc. v. Sharp, (8th Cir., June 10, 2022), the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by an organization that offers meals, shelter and a Christian Life Program for men seeking help with life skills and addiction. At issue was whether a state statute barring sex offenders from being present or loitering within 500 feet of a children's playground is constitutional. The court held that the statute does not apply to the Mission because it does not allege that its clients are loitering when they are receiving services. Therefore its suit seeking an injunction is moot.  Its claim for damages against the former sheriff who enforced the statute were dismissed on qualified immunity grounds. The court said in part:

we can find no “controlling case” or “robust consensus of cases of persuasive authority” that would have notified Sheriff Sharp that Affected Persons had a clearly established right to seek City Union Mission’s services in a building located within 500 feet of a park containing playground equipment.

Judge Kobes filed a concurring opinion.