It's been a while since a couple trial courts in New Jersey held that local residency restrictions were inconsistent with the state's Megan's Law. An appellate court has finally issued an opinion for the appeals of those decisions and reached the same conclusion as did the trial courts. From the court opinion:
In these appeals, we consider challenges to municipal ordinances prohibiting convicted sex offenders from living within a designated distance of schools, parks, playgrounds and daycare centers. The trial courts in both cases invalidated the ordinances, finding them preempted by state law and violative of the due process, ex post facto and double jeopardy clauses of the New Jersey Constitution. We affirm. We hold that the ordinances are preempted by state law and therefore invalid. Because we decide the appeals on preemption grounds, we do not address the constitutional issues.
I think it is clearly true that the local residency restrictions are inconsistent with the state's Megan's Law. However, if the state was so inclined, it could simply amend the registry statute to allow local residency restrictions.
I was a bit more surprised that the appellate court found due process, ex post facto, and double jeopardy grounds to strike down the local law. The court based its decision on state constitutional grounds (which can be more extensive than similar federal rights). I'm no expert on New Jersey constitutional law so I'm not sure if those constitutional rights are afforded greater protection in that state. However, this decision really makes the New Jersey court an outlier among appellate courts who have ruled in residency restriction cases. (edit: as David Giacalone correctly notes in the comments, the appellate court didn't affirm the constitutional reasoning of the trial court. I guess that posting during the never-ending, exciting All-Star game distracted me because I have no idea why I thought the constitutional issues were decided - sorry about that). It will be interesting case to watch as the appeal moves forward.
Thanks for the many readers who sent me the link. f/k/a is also covering the case here.