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Child predators have Constitutional right to take photos of kids, court rules

Everyone can appreciate the "right to free speech" guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.

Even child molesters.

A state appeals judge in Wisconsin has ruled convicted child molesters cannot legally be prevented from taking photographs of children in public places.

Christopher J. Oatmanwas was on probation for a 2002 child sex assault conviction when police searched his Green Bay apartment and found photos of children jumping rope and riding skateboards. None of the pictures included nudity or obscenity.

Oatmanwas was charged with intentionally photographing children without their parents' consent and sentenced to consecutive 18-month prison terms, the maximum, on each of the eight counts. That's a 12-year sentence for taking photos.

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The state overturned the sentence and the state law, saying "children are not harmed by non-obscene, non-pornographic photographs taken in public places."

The court said it was aware child predators might gain sexual gratification from ordinary photos of children, but laws can't ban protected speech just because it might lead to crime.

"First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end," the court wrote, quoting a U.S. Supreme Court case. "The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought."

The ruling may seem strange since states (like Georgia) can prevent those on the sex offender registry from living near schools. I presume this is because there is no Constitutional right to live wherever you want.

What do you think of this ruling?

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