Hope et al. v. Commissioner, 984 F.3d 532 (7th Cir. 2020)
Nature of Case: Plaintiffs, all individuals who Indiana required to register as sex offenders, brought a federal § 1983 lawsuit challenging several aspects of Indiana’s SORA as unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs were all individuals who had committed their offenses prior to SORA’s enactment. Due to the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision in Wallace v. State, Indiana could not constitutionally impose SORA on them had they been Indiana residents. However, because Plaintiffs had all moved to Indiana subsequent to SORA’s enactment (but committed their offenses prior to its enactment) Indiana imposed SORA on them.
Plaintiffs alleged that Indiana SORA violated their Right to Travel, as well as denied them Equal Protection of the Laws, and constituted an impermissible Ex Post Facto Punishment. District Court entered summary judgment for Plaintiffs on all grounds. The Court held that Indiana’s practice of imposing retroactive registration on individuals who moved to Indiana–and whom the state would not otherwise be able to register–due to Wallace–unconstitutionally infringed on their right to travel, denied them Equal Protection, and held that Indiana’s SORA constituted punishment and therefore could not be imposed retroactively. The state sought review.
7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court on the grounds that Indiana created a two-tier class of state citizenship in that it treated similarly situated individuals differently depending solely on their status with respect to state residence. Ultimately, requiring registration of people who committed their offenses prior to enactment of the state’s registration law but moved to the state subsequent to its enactment violates the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The state sought en banc review.
Holding: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, found that the challenged provisions did not violate the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court did not address the Plaintiffs’ Equal Protection claim, and remanded the case for further fact-finding.
- 7th Circuit Opinion (2021) (en banc)
- 7th Circuit Opinion (panel)
- District Court Opinion | view via Google Scholar