United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
M.S. WILLMAN, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS [#18] AND CANCELLING THE OCTOBER 4, 2019
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Judge
M.S. Willman filed the instant action challenging the
constitutionality of the Sex Offender Registration and
Notification Act (SORNA), 34 U.S.C. § 20901 et
seq., a federal law that requires sex offenders to
“register, and keep registration current, in each
jurisdiction where the offender resides, where the offender
is an employee, and where the offender is a student.”
34 U.S.C. § 20913(a).
before the Court is the Defendant United States Attorney
General's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), filed on May 30, 2019. Plaintiff
filed a Response to the Defendant's Motion on June 20,
2019. Defendant filed a Reply on July 3, 2019. Upon review of
the parties' briefing, the Court concludes that oral
argument will not aid in the disposition of this matter.
Accordingly, the Court will cancel the hearing and will
resolve the instant matter on the briefs. E.D. Mich. L.R.
7.1(f)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court grants
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
November 2, 1993, Plaintiff was convicted of criminal sexual
conduct assault with intent to commit sexual penetration and
robbery. Compl.¶ 21. At the time of his conviction,
SORNA did not exist. Plaintiff served a ten-year sentence and
successfully completed parole. Id. at ¶ 29.
Complaint, Plaintiff brings the following claims: Ex Post
Facto Clause, Count I; Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy
Clause, Count II; Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual
Punishment, Count III; First Amendment right to privacy,
Count IV; Privileges and Immunities Clauses of Article IV and
the Fourteenth Amendment, Count V; Fourth Amendment
unreasonable seizure, Count VI; Overbreadth and Vagueness
Doctrines of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, Count VII.
seeks a declaration that SORNA, as applied to him and
“any registrant, ” violates the above provisions
of the United States Constitution. He also seeks an order
requiring the removal of his name from the federal sex
offender registry within 48 hours, and that he and “any
registrant” need not comply with “any past,
present, or future registration and reporting
requirements” of SORNA.
LAW & ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows the court to
make an assessment as to whether the plaintiff has stated a
claim upon which relief may be granted. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a)(2) requires only ‘a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). Even though the complaint need not
contain “detailed” factual allegations, its
“factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all
of the allegations in the complaint are true.”
Ass'n of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. City of
Cleveland, 502 F.3d 545, 548 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555).
court must construe the complaint in favor of the plaintiff,
accept the allegations of the complaint as true, and
determine whether plaintiff's factual allegations present
plausible claims. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, plaintiff's pleading for relief must provide
“more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Id. (citations and quotations omitted).
“[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of
the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to
legal conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129
S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). “Nor does a complaint suffice
if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Id.
“[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Id. The
plausibility standard requires “more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id. “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not
permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not
‘show[n]'- ‘that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'” Id. at 1950.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Duty to Comply with SORNA
main argument is that because Michigan removed him from the
state sex offender registry in April of this year, he is no
longer required to register under the federal SORNA.
requires that every “sex offender, ” defined as
“an individual who was convicted of a sex offense, 34
U.S.C. § 20911(1), “register, and keep the
registration current, in each jurisdiction where the offender
resides, where the offender is an employee, and where the
offender is a student.” 34 U.S.C. § 20913. SORNA
defines “sex offense, ” § 20911(5)(A), and
federally classifies sex offenders into tiers according to
the severity of their sex offense conviction. 34 U.S.C.
§ 20911(2)-(4). These tiers determine the amount of
years an offender must register, § 20915, and how many
in-person visits a sex offender must make per year. 34 U.S.C.
§ 20918. Thus, there is nothing in the statutory
language of SORNA that ties federal registration to state-law
requirements. This is consistent with SORNA's purpose to
“establish a comprehensive national system for the
registration of [sex] offenders.” 34 U.S.C. §
20901. Faced with “a patchwork of federal and 50
individual state registration systems, ” Reynolds
v. United States, 565 U.S. 432, 435 (2012), Congress
created a uniform federal registration duty to deal with
“‘loopholes and deficiencies [that] allowed over
100, 000 sex offenders (about 20% of the total) to escape
registration.” Gundy v. United States, 139
S.Ct. 2116 (U.S. Jun. 20, 2019) (plurality opinion).
predicating a federal duty to register on a state-law
registration requirement would undermine the very purpose of
SORNA by re-implementing the “patchwork of . . . 50
individual state registration systems” with resulting
“loopholes and deficiencies” which could allow
some sex offenders to escape registration altogether. See
United States v. DelValle-Cruz, 785 F.3d 48, 55 (1st
Cir. 2015) (concluding that in light of SORNA's purpose
of establishing greater uniformity, it would be
“illogical” to allow individual states to
determine the scope of federal registration).
the Sixth Circuit has already determined that a sex
offender's obligations under SORNA do not depend on
whether the sex offender has duties under applicable state
sex offender registration laws. See United States v.
Paul, 718 Fed.Appx. 360 (6th Cir. Dec. 11, 2017). Paul
was convicted of rape in state court, but the judgment
included a special condition releasing him from the
obligation to register as a state sex offender under state
law. Id. at 361. Paul argued that “the federal
registration requirement is tied directly to the state
requirement, such that only an individual who ...