International Megan’s Law as Compelled Speech

Alexandra R. Genord*

“The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(l).” International Megan’s Law (IML), passed in 2016, prohibits the State Department from issuing passports to individuals convicted of a sex offense against a minor unless those passports are branded with this phrase. The federal government’s decision to brand its citizens’ passports with this stigmatizing message is novel and jarring, but the sole federal district court to consider a constitutional challenge to the passport identifier dismissed the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claim, deeming the provision government speech. This Note argues that this passport identifier is more appropriately analyzed as a form of compelled speech, triggering strict scrutiny review that the IML’s passport identifier would not survive.

*J.D. Candidate, May 2020, University of Michigan Law School. I am grateful to Professor Don Herzog, David Post, the Michigan Law Review Notes office, and many others for entertaining my musings and for thoughtful feedback, guidance, and encouragement. Thank you to Andrew Sand for your mentorship. And thank you to my family, for always believing in me and supporting me.

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