Kelley_v._Johnson - U.S Supreme Court KELLEY v JOHNSON 425...

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KELLEY v. JOHNSON, 425 U.S. 238 (1976) REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C. J., and STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. I In 1971 respondent's predecessor, individually and as president of the Suffolk County Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, brought this action under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. 1983, against petitioner's predecessor, the Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department. The Commissioner had promulgated Order No. 71-1, which established hair-grooming standards applicable to male members of the police force. The regulation was directed at the style and length of hair, sideburns, and mustaches; beards and goatees were prohibited, except for medical reasons; and wigs conforming to the regulation could be worn for cosmetic reasons. The regulation was attacked as violative of respondent patrolman's right of free expression under the First Amendment and his guarantees of due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, in that it was "not based upon the generally accepted standard of grooming in the community" and placed "an undue restriction" upon his activities therein. The Court of Appeals held that cases characterizing the uniformed civilian services as "para-military," and sustaining hair regulations on that basis, were not soundly grounded historically. It said that the fact that a police force is organized "with a centralized administration and a disciplined rank and file for efficient conduct of its affairs" did not foreclose respondent's claim, but instead bore only upon "the existence of a legitimate state interest to be reasonably advanced by the regulation." The Court of Appeals went on to decide that "choice of personal appearance is an ingredient of an individual's personal liberty" and is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. It further held that the police department had "failed to make the slightest showing of the relationship between its regulation and the legitimate interest it sought to promote." On the basis of this reasoning it concluded that neither dismissal nor summary judgment in the District Court was appropriate, since the department "has the burden of establishing a genuine public need for the regulation." Thereafter the District Court, under the compulsion of the remand from the Court of Appeals, took testimony on the question of whether or not there was a "genuine public need." The sole witness was the Deputy Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department, petitioner's subordinate, who testified as to the police department's concern for the safety of the patrolmen, and the need for some standards of uniformity in appearance. The District Court held that "[n]o proof" was offered to support any claim of the need for the protection of the police officer, and that while "proper grooming" is an ingredient of a good police department's esprit de corps, petitioner's standards did not establish a public need because they ultimately reduced to "[u]niformity for uniformity's
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Kelley_v._Johnson - U.S Supreme Court KELLEY v JOHNSON 425...

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