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Politics

Supreme Court Strikes Down NC Law Banning Sex Offenders From Social Media

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Scott*/Flickr

The Supreme Court has struck down a North Carolina law that bars convicted sex offenders from Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media sites.

The justices ruled unanimously Monday in favor of North Carolina resident Lester Packingham Jr.

His Facebook boast about beating a traffic ticket led to his conviction for violating a 2008 law aimed at keeping sex offenders off internet sites children might use.

Packingham, 36, is a registered sex offender who was convicted of indecent liberties with a minor when he was 21. He served 10 months in prison.

In 2010, he wrote a post on Facebook: "No fine. No Court costs. No nothing. Praise be to God. Wow. Thanks, Jesus."

A Durham police officer investigated Packingham's post and determined he used an alias rather than his real name. Packingham was prosecuted, convicted of a felony and received a suspended prison sentence.

His lawyers argued before the Supreme Court in February that no evidence pointed to Packingham using Facebook or his computer to communicate with minors or that he posted anything inappropriate or obscene.

The court rejected the state's argument that the law deals with the virtual world in the same way that states keep sex offenders out of playgrounds and other places children visit.