VASQUEZ, ET AL. v. ILLINOIS

homeless man and his dog

Brief of Eighteen Scholars as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioners

INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE1

Amici are eighteen scholars across six disciplines whose work includes the leading empirical studies of persons convicted of sexual offenses and the laws applied to them. The Appendix identifies them and describes their work.

Amici believe it critical that judicial decisions affecting constitutional rights be grounded on an accurate understanding of empirical realities. At the very least, they should not propagate misunderstandings. Unfortunately, such misunderstandings are commonplace and often traceable to language in early opinions of this Court. The Seventh Circuit opinion in this case is an example. It relies on mistaken assumptions about both the re-offense risks posed by those to whom the laws apply, and the impact of residential exclusions on the likelihood of their re-offending. Amici wish to provide the Court with accurate descriptions of the scientific studies addressing these subjects. We urge the Court to grant Petitioners’ request—not only to correctly settle the law, but also to ensure that consequential but mistaken factual assumptions do not continue to infect it.

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

The Illinois law upheld below impermissibly burdens constitutionally protected interests in liberty and property by imposing a residency ban that forces individuals on a statutory blacklist to move from their homes, with or without their families, no matter how long they have lived there or how often they have been ordered to move in the past, on the basis of flawed factual assumptions about those individuals, which they are given no opportunity to contest. Moreover, the law burdens such interests irrationally, because the ban is incapable of advancing its valid purpose no matter to whom it is applied.

Illinois applies this residency ban to every person ever convicted—no matter how long ago—of a “sex offense” included on a broad statutory list.3
Affected individuals must move whenever a neighbor opens a “day care home” within 500 feet of their home. Simply remaining in one’s home is then a felony. It should go without saying that this law imposes extraordinary burdens on constitutionally protected interests in liberty and property by denying affected individuals the right to establish and remain in a home—a right all
others enjoy as a matter of course.

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