On February 23, 2019 the Ann Arbor Citizens for Justice support group hosted Shelli Weisberg, the Legislative Director of the ACLU of Michigan, who trained 18 group members to lobby state legislators on the importance of changing Michigan’s SORA.
People who are required to register have been frustrated by the State of Michigan’s inaction since federal courts in 2016 decided, in Does v. Snyder, that many aspects of SORA are unconstitutional. Technically the decision applied only to the six original plaintiffs, but the court’s reasoning really applies to all people on the registry, who have been expecting some degree of relief from registry restrictions. To force this issue the ACLU filed a second, class action law suit that they’re calling Does v. Snyder II. This case has reached a stage where the judge is encouraging the ACLU and the State to reach a settlement. Any settlement will inevitably require legislative changes, and the ACLU argues that the legislature should act now or risk being told what the law must be by the judge.
The legislative changes that the ACLU and Citizens for Justice will be asking for include: making the registry private, reducing the number of people who must register, shortening required registration periods, and providing a risk-based path off the registry, among other things.
The training included a discussion of the legal basis for the requested changes as well as techniques for effectively lobbying legislators. Some role playing helped crystalize the abstract ideas.