Decision below (3rd Cir No. 08-4747, 5/14/10)
Question Presented (by Scotusblog):
Validity of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and its implementing regulations.
The newly granted sex offender case involves an attempt to challenge the retroactive application of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. That law requires every sex offender to register, and keep the registration current, in any state that has such a registration requirement — as all 50 states do. In early 2007, the U.S. Attorney General issued a rule that the federal requirement would apply to all sex offenders, including those convicted of a crime that required them to register, even if the offense occurred prior to SORNA’s enactment.
In the case of a Pennsylvania man, Billy Joe Reynolds, who pleaded guilty of failing to register and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, the Third Circuit Court ruled that he did not have “standing” to challenge the Attorney General’s rule on the premise that his sex offender conviction had occurred in 2001. The Circuit Court says the law, on its own force, applies to all sex offenders.
The Circuit Courts are divided on that issue. The Justices, in granting review, limited their consideration to whether Reynolds has “standing under the plain reading of the SORNA statute to raise claims concerning the Attorney General’s interim rule and is review by this Court needed to resolve the Circuit conflict?” The U.S. Solicitor General urged the Court to deny review of Reynolds’ petition.