Supreme Court strikes down law banning use of Facebook by registered sex offenders

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court unanimously struck down a North Carolina law that bars the use of commercial social networking sites, including Facebook, by registered sex offenders, CNN reports.

A lower court upheld the law. Lawyers for Lester Packingham, a registered sex offender, said the law is too broad and swept in their client even though his Facebook posting was about the fact that a parking ticket was dismissed.

"No fine, no court costs, nothing spent... Praise be to God" he wrote.

After the office saw the Facebook post, Packingham was found guilty of violating the law that says "it is unlawful for a sex offender who is registered ...to access a commercial social networking site where the sex offender knows that the site permits minor children to become members or to create or maintain personal Web pages on the commercial social networking site."

North Carolina said the law was put in place to "confront the threat sexual predators pose to children."

Packingham's lawyers argued the section of the law "imposes criminal punishment for activity fully protected under the First Amendment."

David T. Goldberg said the law reaches "vast swaths of core First Amendment activity that is totally unrelated to the government's preventative purpose" and that it is "totally unrelated to the government's preventative purpose."

Goldberg noted that his client was not accused of communicating with or viewing the profile of a minor, but "speaking to his friends and family" about his experience in traffic court.

They maintained that the section of the law "is not narrowly tailored; it does not leave open ample alternative channels for the First Amendment activities it burdens; and it does not directly or effectively future the government's interests."