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Supreme Court Boots Challenge to SORNA

The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed an Ex Post Facto Clause challenge to the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

In a per curium opinion handed down on June 27, 2011, the Court found that an unnamed Montana juvenile’s claims were moot in light of a Montana Supreme Court decision holding that the juvenile was required to register as a sex offender under state law irrespective of SORNA’s registration requirements.

To avoid a finding of mootness, the juvenile had to show that he was subject to collateral consequences stemming from SORNA’s registration requirements, as he was no longer subject to federal supervision. Thus, the Supreme Court sought clarification from the Montana Supreme Court as to whether the juvenile had a duty to register under state law as a result of SORNA.

After the Montana Supreme Court’s decision, the juvenile attempted to avoid a mootness finding by arguing that his challenge to SORNA was “capable of repetition, yet evading review.” The U.S. Supreme Court, however, rejected that argument. “The capable-of-repetition exception to mootness does not apply [because the juvenile] will never again be subject to an order imposing special conditions of juvenile supervision,” the Court wrote.

Accordingly, the judgment of the lower court was reversed and the case remanded with instructions to dismiss the juvenile’s appeal. See: United States v. Juvenile Male, 131 S.Ct. 2860 (2011).

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Related legal case

United States v. Juvenile Male