(CN) – Congress can enforce criminal penalties for sex offenders who travel between states without registering, the 7th Circuit ruled.
Isaac Vasquez, a registered sex offender in Illinois, was indicted for violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act for failing to register after traveling to California.
He claimed the Commerce Clause does not allow Congress to impose registration requirements on those convicted of intrastate offenses. He also claims the law is unconstitutional because it unfairly punishes sex offenders who travel.
“[I]nterstate travel inherently involves use of channels of interstate commerce and is properly subject to congressional regulation under the Commerce Clause,” Judge William Bauer said.
The court also held that the law can compel federal registration before interstate travel occurs, citing the intent of the act to prevent harm to citizens in states where sex offenders are not registered.
Judge Daniel Manion dissented, saying that Congress only has the power to make those who travel register – not those simply residing within a state.
He cited the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Carr v. United States, which determined that intent is relevant; simply crossing state lines does not necessitate registration, the court held.
By upholding Vasquez’s conviction, Manion says, “the court endorses a significant expansion of congressional power.”