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Kelley v. Johnson Case Brief

Summary of Kelley v. Johnson

Rule: Personal appearance of police officers is not a protected right of privacy as long as the regulations are rational.  

Facts: Regulations requiring police officers to keep hair at a certain length.  

Issue: Are the regulations so irrational that they can be deemed arbitrary, and therefore a deprivation of liberty protected by the 14th Amendment DP clause?

Holding: No, there is no protected liberty.  Unlike Roe and others, there is no substantial claim of infringement on the individual’s freedom of choice with respect to certain basic matters of procreation, marriage, and family life.  

Reasoning: Similarity in appearance of police officers is a desirable trait and serves as a rational reason for the law.

Marshall dissent: By taking over appearance, the state forces him to sacrifice elements of his identity.  This liberty of appearance is on par with other protected interests like privacy, self-identity, autonomy and personal integrity.  Further, there is no rational relationship between the ends means (how does appearance have to do with esprit de corps?)



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