The Michigan ACLU’s complaint with its supporting documents can be found at https://www.aclumich.org/en/press-releases/aclu-sues-state-officials-fourth-time-over-unconstitutional-michigan-sex-offender.
The Does III or Does v Whitmer lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of Michigan arguing that substantial parts of Michigan’s 2021 SORA are unconstitutional and must not be enforced. The suit was filed on Feb. 2, 2022 in Federal District Court.
The suit was filed on behalf of ten plaintiffs, the “Does”, who represent various classes of people subject to registration requirements under the 2021 SORA. The suit first asks that the court certify the case as a class action, applying to all people subject to the 2021 SORA.
Second, the suit asks the court to temporarily stop the state from enforcing unconstitutional parts of the 2021 SORA on the members of the class while the case proceeds. This asks for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of ten provisions of the law.
Finally, the suit asks the court for permanent relief from the same ten unconstitutional provisions of the 2021 SORA.
Organization of the Complaint
The complaint document is 198 pages long and was filed along with 21 exhibits containing evidence supporting the arguments. There are also two separate documents containing motions, one for class certification and one for preliminary injunction.
The complaint is divided into three major parts. First, it describes the ten “Does”, the plaintiffs in the case. Second, the bulk of the document states the facts of the case, including the history of the law and litigation, the many constitutional problems with the law, and the severe burdens the law places on people subject to registration. Third, it describes the ten types of relief requested, and it formally requests the court to permanently grant the requested relief.
Requests for Relief
Because SORA 2021 imposes punishment it must not be enforced on people whose offenses were committed before July 1, 2011. SORA 2021 imposes almost all of the punitive burdens of the prior law which were found to be punishments in previous law suits.
Again because SORA 2021 is punishment, registration terms may not be extended retroactively on people who under prior laws had shorter registration terms.
People required to register are publicly labeled dangerous sex offenders and this may not be done to people without an individualized review of their dangerousness.
Some people who are required to register are given an opportunity to petition to get off the registry, but other people who meet the same qualifications are not, simply because of their tier classification. Tier classifications do not measure a person’s risk of reoffending, so all people should have an opportunity to petition to get off the registry.
The law compels people on the registry to periodically provide personal information about themselves that is then presented to the public in a form that labels them as dangerous sex offenders. This is compelled speech with which the plaintiffs vehemently disagree, so the law’s reporting requirements are unconstitutional.
Retroactively lengthening registration terms on people who entered plea agreements prior to SORA 2021 or under prior versions of SORA is unconstitutional.
It is unconstitutional to require people who have not committed sex offenses to register as sex offenders.
Many of the requirements of SORA 2021, including the rules around reporting places of employment, residences, schools attended, nicknames, phone numbers, vehicles, and internet identifiers are vague and not understood by people who must register and by law-enforcement personnel both. Similar requirements in SORA 2011 were ruled unconstitutionally vague and so should be the SORA 2021 requirements.
Requiring people to sign the Explanation of Duties saying that they understand the requirements of SORA 2021 is compelled false speech . Therefore this requirement is unconstitutional.
The requirements in the law for reporting internet identifiers and allowing that information to be made public have a chilling effect on people’s use of the internet, and therefore these requirements are an unconstitutional infringement of the First Amendment.