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Kolender v. Lawson

Significance, Impact


William Kolender, et al.


Edward Lawson

Petitioner's Claim

It is not a violation of constitutional due process rights to require that persons who loiter or wander on the streets account for their presence and provide a "credible and reliable" identification when requested by a police officer.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

A. Wells Petersen

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Mark D. Rosenbaum

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor (writing for the Court), Lewis F. Powell, Jr., John Paul Stevens

Justices Dissenting

William H. Rehnquist, Byron R. White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

2 May 1983


The California statute requiring persons to produce identification and explain their presence on the street is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause.

Related Cases

  • Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88 (1940).
  • Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, 382 U.S. 87 (1965).
  • Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).
  • Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 U.S. 156 (1972).

Further Readings

  • New York Times, May 3, 1983.
  • Trosch, William. "The Third Generation of Loitering Laws Goes to Court: Do Laws that Criminalize `Loitering with the Intent to Sell Drugs' Pass Constitutional Muster?" North Carolina Law Review, January 1993.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988