KOLENDER v. LAWSON

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
81-1320
Appellee 
Lawson
Appellant 
Kolender
Advocates
(By invitation of the Court, argued the cause as amicus curiae in support of the judgment below)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Lawson was a law-abiding black man of unusual deportment (he wore his hair in long dreadlocks). Lawson was frequently subjected to police questioning and harassment when he walked in white neighborhoods. Lawson challenged the California law "that requires persons who loiter or wander on the streets to provide a 'credible and reliable' identification and to account for their presence when requested by a peace officer."

Question 

Is the California statute unconstitutionally vague?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Lawson, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

The law was unconstitutionally vague because it gave excessive discretion to the police (in the absence of probable cause for an arrest) whether to stop and interrogate a suspect or leave him alone. The majority hinted that the California statute compromised the constitutional right to freedom of movement.

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KOLENDER v. LAWSON. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 04 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1320>.
KOLENDER v. LAWSON, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1320 (last visited April 4, 2014).
"KOLENDER v. LAWSON," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 4, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1320.