Laws That Are Unconstitutionally 'Vague' Because They Single Out One Group.

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Jimbee68, Jun 23, 2024.

  1. Jimbee68

    Jimbee68 Member

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    Some people think that the state can outlaw just about everything. That is not true. If they outlaw conduct protected the Constitution, that's not allowed. Also at least since the 19th Century, laws can not be unclear. The laws must make it clear. What conduct is prohibited, what people are affected, what punishments apply. And a judge is also going to ask. Are you just singling out one group with this law? Laws like I just described are called vague laws, thru the Void For Vagueness doctrine. Steven H. Gifis says in the Law Dictionary (Sixth Edition) "a criminal statute is constitutionally void for vagueness when it is so vague that persons of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application. 269 U.S. 385, 391." Overbreadth is a similar doctrine, he says.

    Yeah, certain groups can be singled out. In ways people at the time don't even realize. In 1870 in San Francisco an ordinance was passed that said "No person upon any sidewalk shall carry a basket or baskets, bag or bags, suspended from or attached to poles across or upon the shoulder" Section 47. They were referring to the buckets carried on a wooden plank across the shoulders, yeo-ho poles, that the Chinese immigrants at the time often used, to transport goods. There also was an ordinance that said no man shall have his hair in a small pig tail. Both punishable as crimes.

    Chinese immigrants' lives in the United States were often made more difficult by federal and state laws at the time. The case US v. Wong Kim Ark was finally brought at the time challenging laws like the two above. The federal Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 also made Chinese immigration to the US illegal. However, in US v. Wong Kim Ark, the US Supreme Court ruled that under the fourteenth amendment, even persons of Chinese ancestry born in the US were entitled to citizenship. And laws, as I said, that singled out one group alone for doing basically nothing, were unconstitutional too.

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