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State Supreme Court rules 'sex offender' card requirement unconstitutional

The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that requiring convicted sex offenders to carry a card branded with the words “sex offender” is “compelled speech” that violates First Amendment rights regarding freedom of expression.

The defendant had been charged with a crime for altering a card. The state argued the relevant statute regulated conduct integral to criminal activity, not speech.

The Supreme Court majority sided with the district court, ruling the card is not the least restrictive way for the state to identify sex offenders, therefore failing to meet the “strict scrutiny” standard for government regulations of the content of a person’s speech. Associate Justice William Crain dissented, saying the phrase on the card is government speech and is not presented as if it is the offender’s speech.

Louisiana health official says 'herd immunity' approach to COVID-19 could kill 1-2 percent of state’s population

Ending mitigation measures to fight COVID-19 and hoping the public develops “herd immunity” could lead to the deaths of 1-2 percent of the state’s population, Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health said Wednesday.

Louisiana’s population is about 4.6 million, so 1 percent mortality would equate to about 46,000 deaths. As of noon Wednesday, at least 5,584 residents with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic began, state health officials report.

Kanter said supporters of herd immunity should be asked how many deaths they are willing to accept and how they would protect people who are particularly vulnerable to developing serious complications from the new coronavirus.

“You look around, and you say, ‘OK, who wants to be first?’” he said. “How many deaths are we comfortable with?”

Senate committee advances ban on private funding for local elections

The state Senate’s governmental affairs committee on Wednesday advanced House Bill 51, which would ban local government entities from taking private money to pay for election costs.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan offered $250 million in grants to local election officials around the country to ensure “every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way and have their vote counted.” Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin initially urged local clerks of court to apply and many considered doing so, hoping to defray expenses related to holding an election during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democratic legislators have argued that it doesn’t make sense to turn down free money while simultaneously spending more taxpayer dollars on this year’s elections. But Attorney General Jeff Landry said taking the donations might be illegal. Rep. Blake Miguez, the Erath Republican who authored the bill, says his bill clarifies state law and protects the integrity of Louisiana’s elections

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