Libraries and Sex Offenders

The Volokh Conspiracy (these days, I suppose we could abbreviate that to "VC," but I still prefer not to do so) questions whether Tennessee can Constitutionally, under the First Amendment, ban sex offenders from libraries. There are some interesting points raised by the logic.
But content-neutral limitations on who may access this government property are, I think, constitutional so long as they are reasonable in light of the purposes to which the government chooses to dedicate the property. And while I’m not sure that such a policy is likely to be especially effective, I do think it passes the rather low bar of reasonableness, given the government’s purpose of providing an especially safe environment for children, an environment that parents and children will be eager to take advantage of.
It's also reasonable given that female librarians outnumber male ones by approximately 4-1. The link is to a study of gender-bias against males who work in libraries, which include "being expected to handle physical tasks such as moving furniture, [and] being expected to work night or weekend shifts for security[.]"

That is the sort of bias which, although I suppose it really is bias, accords with rather than offends good sense. On average, men will be better suited for moving furniture; and although men are more likely to be victims of violent crime than are women, the exception to that is the crime of rape (see table 5, which estimates that women suffer rape at about ten times the rate of men).

I've spent a fair amount of my life in libraries, and it's fairly common for there to be no men at all who work in them (although, as the article notes, that is less true at academic libraries, where the ration is merely 3-1 female-male). Often libraries close after dark, and someone is going to have to stay behind to close when the most of the staff goes home. Since public libraries are public places, you can't remove people from them without some sort of legal reason. Imagine not having the capacity to remove a registered sex offender who simply came into the library every day, who sat quietly but often stared at the women behind the desks. This is surely the kind of work environment that would be considered hostile! It may also be dangerous, as stalking often is a precondition for rape, as the focus of the stalker on his victim intensifies over time. Yet the man in question is not causing a disturbance, is not a co-worker who can be punished administratively, and so forth. There needs to be a lawful cause that authorizes the police to ask him to leave if they are requested to do so. Surely this is reasonable.

UPDATE: However, I agree with Dr. Reynold's commenter: the reasonable nature of the law depends to a large degree on keeping the definition of "sex offender" pretty tight. "Not only are the punishments becoming more petty; the definition of ‘sex offender’ becomes more petty by the day. For instance, in many jurisdictions you don’t want to get caught answering nature’s emergency call by the side of the road. Who knew such distress could someday cause the yanking of your library card?"

The failure of reason here, however, isn't in keeping rapists and pedophiles out of libraries; it lies in exploding the category of "sex offender."

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