Mass. Court Allows Posting of Sex Offenders

The state's highest court ruled Tuesday that state officials can post the names, addresses and photos of the most dangerous sex offenders on the Internet.

The Supreme Judicial Court said the public's right to know whether there are Level 3 sex offenders — those classified as the most likely to re-offend — in its midst, outweighs the offenders' right to privacy.

"We do not live in a utopian society," the court said in its ruling. "By reason of the necessities of the situation, the registration information of level three sex offenders, lawfully determined to pose a high risk of danger to others, may be posted on the Internet to protect society."

The court heard arguments in the case in June, more than a year after Gov. Mitt Romney (search) said the state's Sex Offender Registry Board (search) would begin posting the information online. The Legislature enacted a law in November allowing the information to be posted.

But the state's public defenders sued on behalf of five Level 3 sex offenders, arguing that putting their names and photographs on the Internet would hurt their ability to find jobs and homes and to rehabilitate themselves.