Cleveland.com: Supreme Court upholds man's predator' status ;
Stricter classification went into effect after his sentencing.
... But since the case was based on Ohio's former sexual predator statute, the court's 4-3 ruling is actually less significant because larger challenges to the current offender classification system are looming.
In January, Ohio's Adam Walsh Act kicked in with a far stricter, three-tier, retroactive sexual offender classification system that requires frequent registering with local police and listing in a public database.
That new system is already being challenged in lower courts across Ohio -- with some judges, including one in Cleveland, already having declared it unconstitutional. It is expected to eventually reach the high court.
"If they had decided that the old law was unconstitutional, then that would have had a huge impact on Adam Walsh," said Amy Borror, from the Ohio public defender's office, which is challenging the new laws and had awaited Wednesday's ruling.
In State v. Ferguson, the case decided Wednesday, Andrew J. Ferguson of Cleveland argued that a 2003 amendment to the former sex offender law reclassifying him a predator for life was a form of added punishment.
Writing for the court's majority, Justice Maureen O'Connor said retroactive classification in this case is not punitive because the General Assembly intended the provision to be a public safety issue.
"It is a remedial, regulatory scheme designed to protect the public rather than to punish the offender," O'Connor wrote.
She was joined by Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and Justices Robert Cupp and Terrence O'Donnell.
Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote a dissent that was joined by Justices Paul Pfeifer and Evelyn Lundberg Stratton. Lanzinger questioned why the majority did not use the same analysis the court had used in a case earlier this year when it concluded that residency rules for sexual predators were not retroactive.
Even if she were persuaded the old law was retroactive, Lanzinger said, "I cannot accept that the challenged amendments are merely remedial and do not impair vested, substantial rights."
Justice Lanzinger clearly understands the Constitution, along with Justices Pfeifer and Lundberg. They grasp the concept of expost facto provisons of the United States and Ohio Constitutions. However, Justices O'Connor, Moyer, Cupp and O'Donnell have demonstrated their incompetence, which insists on their immediate removal from the Court.