A federal court today denied a motion requesting a preliminary injunction in a case challenging the SORNA regulations. The court’s decision was based upon a determination that the sole individual plaintiff, John Doe, lacks legal standing because he has already registered for the time period required by his SORNA tier. The judge then provided plaintiffs with an opportunity to file an amended complaint within 14 days as well as to file a subsequent motion for preliminary injunction.
During today’s hearing, the parties discussed whether SORNA regulations apply to individuals who have earned a dismissal and/or been granted a certificate of rehabilitation. The government argued that the SORNA regulations do not need to clarify SORNA’s application to such individuals because “it’s for the registrant to decide” if SORNA applies to him or her.
The Court appeared to reject the government’s argument and explained that federal criminal liability requires a clear statement regarding to whom the SORNA regulations apply. The Court also opined that, if SORNA regulations do not clearly state the individuals to whom they apply, then the regulations are “unintelligible.” The Court also asked how a registrant is supposed to know if they are subject to the SORNA regulations and stated that the SORNA regulations should be clear regarding the requirements in all 50 states.
During today’s hearing, the Court did not make any decisions regarding the merits of the SORNA regulations or the application of those regulations to individuals granted either a dismissal or a certificate of rehabilitation.