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Old June 6, 2010, 12:55 PM   #1
Sefner
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What is "Color of Law"?

I am a member of several gun forums and consider myself extremely familiar with the Constitution, BoR, RKBA, and civil rights (above my computer I have a life-size poster of the Declaration of Independence in parchment and in the hallway I have life-size posters of the Constitution - it's 4 pages - and the ORIGINAL BoR - the one with 12 amendments, all in parchment). But I have never heard of "color of law" until a few days ago on my local Open Carry board. This surprises me given my familiarity. Thus, I am sure other members or lurkers are also unfamiliar with it. I have researched the topic mildly but I'm still a little unsure as to exactly what it is and how it applies to civil rights.

I was going to post this on that board but they are a little umm... "abrasive" about many issues. There was a minor dust-up over the recent Miranda ruling, a lot of people thought that it was a HUGE infringement on our civil rights and that the court was taking them away and blablabla. So I come here because this board is extremely knowledgeable and unbiased when it comes to things like this. Thanks guys.
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Old June 6, 2010, 02:30 PM   #2
dogtown tom
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Google is your friend...

http://www2.fbi.gov/hq/cid/civilrights/color.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_(law)

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedicti...m/Color+of+Law
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Old June 6, 2010, 02:46 PM   #3
Glenn Dee
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In my experience... This term is more used when arguing the 14th amendment. Jim Crow laws denied god given, constitutionally guarenteed rights under color of state law.

Gun controll laws were origonally jim crow laws. Denying a segment of US citizens the protection of the second amendment under state, or local law.

The term " under color of law" has nothing to do with color...lol.

I hope a member lawyer chimes in. I'd really like to hear a correct definition.
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Old June 6, 2010, 03:00 PM   #4
Tom Servo
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The phrase "color of law" generally means "under the pretense of upholding or enforcing the law." It implies the authority to do so.

You usually hear it used in cases involving corruption or inappropriate conduct. For example, an officer extorts money from a suspect in exchange for making charges "go away," is acting under color of law.
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Old June 6, 2010, 05:10 PM   #5
Al Norris
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Sefner, if you stick around, you will often see me write that a particular word or phrase is a "term of art" (see this legal definition of the phrase). Such is the phrase, "under color of law."

Tom has a good answer to what the phrase means.

I would add that it means: The appearance of a legal right (action) by a State actor (officer; official; etc.), when no such right (action) actually exists.

It is by it's nature, a civil rights violation.
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Old June 6, 2010, 05:23 PM   #6
BlueTrain
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Are you a lawyer? Thomas Jefferson was and so were a few other members of the conventions that produced those documents. Others were not; none were self-appointed.
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Old June 6, 2010, 08:12 PM   #7
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueTrain
Are you a lawyer? Thomas Jefferson was and so were a few other members of the conventions that produced those documents. Others were not; none were self-appointed.
I am a lawyer and a member of the Bars of the California Supreme Court, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California and the Federal District Court for the Central District of California -- admitted to said Bars by said courts.

The definitions given by Tom Servos and Antipitas are close.

Probably the clearest definition of "under color of law" would be "with apparent legal authority." The actions of a government official purporting to act within the scope of his official authority are "under color of law" because he is a government official.

An action "under color of law" may or may not be lawful. So an arrest by a police officer with probable cause to make the arrest is "under color of law" because it is within the apparent scope of his legal authority as a sworn officer of the law; and it is lawful because it was, by hypothesis, supported by adequate probable cause.

An arrest without probable cause, but because the person arrested was Black, is still under color of law, because it was within the apparent scope of the cop's authority. But is was also illegal because it was not supported by adequate probable cause and unlawfully discriminatory (thus implicating civil rights laws).

The concept is important because an illegal act "under color of law" is governmental action and will have liability consequences for the governmental agency employing the official.
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Old June 6, 2010, 08:40 PM   #8
Standing Wolf
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Quote:
Gun controll laws were origonally jim crow laws.
Nope. Sorry. America's first "gun control" laws were passed even before the Revolution. Their purpose was to prevent blacks and Indians from having firearms.
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Old June 6, 2010, 09:52 PM   #9
Sefner
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I read the wiki and the Google results, but they were unclear. I was confused due to the terms used, "color" and "under law" seem like weird words to use when it comes to what it is. My understanding from initial research was closer to Tom's definition. Thanks Antipitas and fiddletown for the clarifications. This is why I come here
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Old June 7, 2010, 12:12 AM   #10
jgcoastie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Dee
Gun control laws were originally jim crow laws.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Standing Wolf
Nope. Sorry. America's first "gun control" laws were passed even before the Revolution. Their purpose was to prevent blacks and Indians from having firearms.
Standing Wolf, I believe that's what Glenn was trying to say... Most laws of this type are commonly referred to as Jim Crow Laws, even if their origins predated the Reconstruction Period...

Ultimately, they all mean the same thing; laws enacted to limit freedoms and actions for a certain group of people...
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Old June 9, 2010, 06:32 PM   #11
pnac
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Is this an example of "color of law"?

http://www.redding.com/news/2010/jun...ssault-allega/

Part of the article:

“He was on duty,” Benito said.

After she was arrested on misdemeanor counts in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 29, the woman told police, Benson raped her up against his unmarked squad car. He had parked the car next to a building in Redding and after the alleged assault Benson took the woman to jail, Benito said.

Benito said Benson told fellow Anderson Police Officer Matthew Goodwin, 28, he’d had sex with the 24-year-old woman, but Goodwin didn’t report it until investigators asked him about it on June 3 – five days after the reported rape. Benito said that under the law someone who is in police custody can’t be considered to have consented to sex with her captor.

“She’s in custody, there is no consensual sex,” Benito said.
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Old June 9, 2010, 08:38 PM   #12
BGutzman
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Quote:
Standing Wolf, I believe that's what Glenn was trying to say... Most laws of this type are commonly referred to as Jim Crow Laws, even if their origins predated the Reconstruction Period...

Ultimately, they all mean the same thing; laws enacted to limit freedoms and actions for a certain group of people...
Funny we have the same thing now days...... You and I call them gun control laws and they only restrict law abiding citizens that believe in the second ammendment.... (Criminals could care less what the law says obviously)
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Last edited by BGutzman; June 9, 2010 at 08:58 PM.
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