A federal judge ruled Thursday that Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) law, which is mainly used on black transgender prostitutes and other women which requires them if found guilty to register as sex offenders is unconstitutional.
In Louisiana, the state prostitution law does not require registration as a sex offender. But Louisiana Police and prosecutors had unfettered discretion in choosing which law to charge under. The judge found that the discrepancy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
Apart from LGBT, the law was also being discriminatorily applied against poor black women.
Said Alexis Agathocleous, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the case:
“[The] decision is a powerful vindication of our clients’ right to equal protection before the law. The court has agreed that they have been singled out for this harsh treatment without a legitimate or rational purpose, and that this cannot stand.”
Wrote Judge Martin L. C. Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana:
“The defendants [Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell] fail to credibly serve up even one unique legitimating governmental interest that can rationally explain the registration requirement imposed on those convicted of Crime Against Nature by Solicitation.”
“The Court is left with no other conclusion but that the relationship between the classification is so shallow as to render the distinction wholly arbitrary,” he wrote.
Feldman said the issue before him was “not about approval or disapproval of sexual beliefs or mores. It is about the mandate of equality that is enshrined in the Constitution.”