Friday, July 03, 2015

ACLU Uses Indiana RFRA In Suit Challenging New Restrictions On Sex Offenders

The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging the prohibition in a newly enacted state law that keeps certain registered sex offenders from attending religious services. (ACLU press release).  At issue is Indiana Code § 35-42-4-14 (eff. July 1, 2015) that bars certain registered sex offenders from entering school property.  The complaint (full text) in John Doe I v. Allen and Elkhart County Prosecutors, (IN Super. Ct., filed 7/1/2015), alleges in part:
This statute ... [bans serious sex offenders] from going to worship in churches, synagogues, mosques, or other religious buildings that are located on the same as property parochial schools or certain preschool programming. Banning sex offenders from ... church on Sunday, because there are students in a school on the same grounds on Monday, is irrational and violates the due process of law protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.... It also violates Indiana’s newly enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana Code § 34-13-9-0.7, et seq. (eff. July 1, 2015), which prohibits government from imposing a substantial burden on a person’s exercise of religion absent a compelling governmental interest and a showing that the action is the least restrictive means to further that interest.
AP reports on the lawsuit and reactions to it.