Tenn. county libraries off limits to sex offenders
by Charlie Butts
Thanks to an executive order from Mayor Tim Burchett, registered sex offenders are no longer allowed at 19 Knox County libraries. Liberty Counsel attorney Harry Mihet believes it is a sensible approach “to say that we’re going to protect our children at a library, at a place of information. We’ll keep those places safe by prohibiting registered sex offenders from coming to these libraries and transforming them into a place where they can prey on the young children.”
A state law gives local governments the authority to enact such prohibitions, but the ACLU is complaining that it restricts a person’s right to free speech. However, Mihet argues that though that is true for the average citizen, it is not necessarily so for convicted sex offenders.
“Whenever the government has a compelling interest, it may curtail the rights of some citizens to protect the rights of others,” he points out. “And in this case, if protecting children from sex offenders is not a compelling interest, then I can’t imagine what would be.”
Liberty Counsel has reached out to assure Knox County officials that they are on solid legal footing.