Why Does the ACLU Think Sexual Predators Have More Rights than Children? | American Center for Law and Justice
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By Jay Sekulow1308957950000

We frequently battle the American Civil Liberties Union on a host of issues including pornography, prayer and religious expression.  Now, we are engaged in a legal battle on a new front this time the issue pits the rights of children against sexual offenders.

In a recent series of cases in New Jersey, the ACLU has opposed legitimate efforts to protect children from sexual predators who attempt to live in their neighborhoods.  The ACLJ is now representing the Township of Galloway, New Jersey, in the defense of an important law designed to protect children against convicted sex offenders.  Not surprisingly, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit claiming that the ordinance designed to protect children violates several of New Jerseys constitutional provisions. 

The Township of Galloway, like many other communities in New Jersey, enacted Ordinance No. 1616 to serve as a buffer zone for children, forbidding convicted sex offenders (over age 18) from residing within 2500 feet of any school, park, playground or day care center in Galloway Township.  This kind of stay-away zone makes sense. 

Incredibly, the ACLU of New Jersey is seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional.  They believe that freedom dictates that convicted sex offenders have the right to live any place of their choosing, regardless of the safety of children.  Currently, convicted sex offenders must register with the State of New Jersey under Megans Law.  Once registered, the Township Residency Requirements apply.  The true reality is that convicted sex offenders and would-be sex offenders regularly prey on their young, defenseless victims at places where they are likely to bemainly schools, parks, playgrounds and day care centers which have been designated as prohibited areas of residence by the Township for these convicted sex offenders.  Simply put, buffer zones are necessary to protect this most vulnerable segment of our society. 

Restrictions created by the stay-away zone merely extend the protection of Megans Law.  The goal of Megans Law is to protect the community through notification either on the Internet or through personal notification to the surrounding residents regarding the location of sexual predators.  The goal of the Township was to add to that protection by creating safe zones in areas frequented by children.  In this way, the state statute and local ordinance complement one another.  This statute is constitutional and makes sense.  While it does impact the ability of sex offenders to live in particular areas, they are not prohibited from living in the Township.  In fact, the impact on these convicted sex offenders is slight when considering the interest at stake.  New Jersey courts should balance the interests of both sides, and in this case, the balance tips decidedly in favor of the children.  Courts in other states have dealt with the exact same issue and have concluded that there is no fundamental right for sex offenders to reside in the place of their choice in the vicinity of children.

The issue in this case is not whether the sex offenders can live in the Townshipthey can; rather, the ordinance speaks only to where in the Township they may live.  The interest of Galloway Townships children far outweighs the desire of a convicted sex offender to live in the place of his choice.  Even the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized that the risk of recidivism among sex offenders is frightening and high.  In our view, the ACLU is wrong and the balance here tips decidedly in favor of the children of Galloway Township.  A New Jersey Superior Court has declared the ordinance unconstitutional.  We are appealing on behalf of the Township and seeking to have that decision overturned.  It is our hope that ultimately the rights of the children will be protected in this case.

The ACLUs position is simply off-base and begs the question: Why does the ACLU protect pedophiles and pornographers while, at the same time, challenge prayer and religious expression and now refuse to protect our children?

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