Kolender v. Lawson 461 U.S. 352 (1983)

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KOLENDER v. LAWSON 461 U.S. 352 (1983)

The facts of this case, not revealed by the official report, enhanced its interest. Lawson was a law-abiding black man of unorthodox attire and grooming who suffered frequent police harassment when he walked in white neighborhoods. A 7–2 Supreme Court held void for vagueness a California statute obligating persons who "wander" the streets to provide credible and reliable identification and to explain their business to the police. The majority reasoned that the statute vested excessive discretion in the police to decide whether to stop and interrogate a suspect or leave him alone in the absence of probable cause to arrest him. The Court also suggested that the statute compromised the constitutional right to freedom of movement.

Leonard W. Levy