Posted by: birdsongslaw | September 19, 2008

Florida Town’s Sagging Pants Law Unconstitutional

After class discussions last week concerning overbroad criminal statutes that target minority groups, a number of Birdsong’s criminal law students have sent him email news stories regarding the recent arrests of black teenagers in  south Florida for wearing sagging pants.

We now learn that a judge in Riviera Beach, Florida has declared unconsitutional a law banning the wearing of  sagging pants after one of the teenagers spent a night in jail on accusations he exposed too much underwear.

Circuit Judge Paul Moyle struck down the law based on “the limited facts” of the case after a lawyer for the teenager, Julius Hart, 17, argued, “Your honor, we now have the fashion police!”

Let us now all together say those magic words: “VOID FOR VAGUENESS AND OVERBREADTH!”

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Responses

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  2. Prof. Birdsong;
    I realize I may be a little late commenting on this post. I meant to do so earlier, but law school tends to consume much of my time these days.

    Kudos to this judge! I had been reading about these “saggy pants” laws popping up in different jurisdictions and have been appalled. The thought of taking someone’s freedom away for a clothing ‘style’ or ‘fad’ is reprehensible.

    I don’t particularly like the fad of men wearing saggy pants because I think it looks silly. That’s just my personal preference. Of course, I don’t feel the need to use the power of Government to force these men to go along with my ideas of style, either. I think we would be treading on a slippery slope if these laws are allowed to stay on the books. People didn’t really care for the really short mini skirts, women showing their belly buttons, or women wearing their pants low enough to show some of their thong underwear. But no one felt it was necessary to make a law banning those styles of clothing. One day you might be wearing a style or fad of clothing that will be outlawed, but most people don’t think about that until they are the ones in handcuffs being led to jail.

    If I was Black, I probably would consider this to be racist as well, simply because other ‘styles’ or ‘fads’ are not being outlawed like this one is. Most people agree that it is mostly Blacks that like this particular fad of wearing the saggy pants. Most of the ones I’ve seen, I haven’t even seen any skin, so it can’t be indecent exposure. I don’t understand what the big deal is about seeing someone’s boxer shorts. Some of the boxers out now are quite comical, even.

    I wish people would quit trying to use the force of Government to accomplish things they don’t have the right to do on their own.
    OK, I’m off my soapbox now…

    =^. .^=

  3. In total agreement with Catgirl.

    It’s funny because I’m going over this notion in my Con law class about why the Supreme Ct should be able to review State Court decisions. No one would believe a State Legislature passed this statute and thought “Yeah, this is constitutional.” I think half the time, statutes are passed and they think “Ehh, who cares about the Constitutionality of the thing, the voters (only people who count to us) will like it. Let just wait until someone brings it to court.


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