Chicago v. Morales is a 1999 Supreme Court case where the court provides that the law is not vague to distinguish an illegal activity from an innocent activity (Sigel et al. 2011). Common law provides that loitering is a form of crime. The Chicago gang ordinance prohibits people in the area from loitering aimlessly in the streets. In the instance an officer on patrol noticed a man and perceives them as a gang, the officer can disperse the person from loitering in the public. The police department uses a 92-4 order to provide the designation from the public areas. Some of the judges upheld the order while others rule it as invalid (Merino, 2013). The Illinois Appellate Court affirms the ordinance that arbitrarily restricts people’s liberty and violates the due process.
A police officer arrests Jesus Morales and the Illinois Supreme Court holds the person guilty under a constitution ordinance. It happened after Morales challenged the arrest. Morales defy the police order of dispersion after loitering in Chicago streets. The law is vague on matters concerning personal liberties and arbitral restriction. The Federal government affirms the decision of Illinois Supreme Court. The Illinois Supreme Court held that Chicago Gang Congregation Ordinance is unconstitutionally vague, and the federal government granted certiorari.
The law is discriminatory in nature since it violates people’s right of freedom. The law fails to provide notice to the prohibited behavior and authorizes an arbitral and discriminatory enforcement. Additionally, the law is discriminatory since it occurs in the instance an officer perceives a person to be a gang member. The officer orders the people to disperse regardless of whether they are affiliated to the gang members (Sigel et al. 2011). A person that tends to defy the order is held guilty of the violation of the ordinance that is unconstitutionally vague of Illinois Supreme Court and Supreme Court of America that grants certiorari. It is likely that the Chicago Police Department that tries to enforce the ordinance can mistake innocent civilians for gang affiliated members. The police officers rely on their perception of gangs and can have the possibility of prejudice. The Chicago ordinance is a form of discrimination
A senior judge, Paul Stevens, declares that the Chicago’s Gang Congregation Ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and provides law enforcement officers much discretion in determining activities that constitute loitering. The definition of loitering to constitute a person remaining in one place with no definite purpose fails to provide adequate notice on issues prohibited and those allowed (Sigel et al. 2011). The law fails to meet all the requirements of the Due Process Clause since it is vague and does not have set standards. The law will leave the citizens unaware to the prohibited conduct. Loitering can be a harmless and innocent activity to necessitate a dispersal order. The order violates the freedom of movement to the people in Chicago (Sigel et al. 2011).
The court should consider the application of fair notice requirement that will enable the public confirm to the conduct of the law. The statute is a prohibition that will allow the courts to suggest rightful detention. The proposed law would provide an absolute discretion to the police enforcement as they determine the activities that constitute loitering. A dissent will construe the ordinance to penalize a person loitering that fail to adhere to the dispersion order instead of penalizing the act of loitering. The dissent will curtail the power of the police officers to threaten peaceful groups to disperse. The dissent is not vague in ordering people since it offers a notice consistent to the Due Process Clause. A concurrence to the Illinois Supreme Court will abolish the issue of vagueness and the concurring opinion.
Merino, N. (2013). Criminal Justice. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.
Nielsen, M. O., & Silverman, R. A. (2009). Criminal justice in Native America. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press.
Sigel, L. J., Schmalleger, F., & Worall, J. L. (2011). Courts and Criminal Justice in America. New York: Pearson Prentice Hall.