Kelley v. Johnson and Tonsorial Tastes: The Death Knell of Substantive Due Process?
Albany Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 3, p. 411, 1977
47 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2010
Date Written: 1977
This article focuses on Kelly v. Johnson, in which the Supreme Court upheld restrictions on hair length and facial hair for policemen against claims that such restrictions violated their substantive due process rights. The decision implicitly accepted the view that the Supreme Court, and other federal courts, cannot intervene in the resolution of conflicts which arise in the daily functioning of state governments under the guise of substantive due process. It rejected the notion that federal decisions are to be made on the basis of subjective judgments by judges as to what constitutes a denial of due process. It rejected, too, any claim that misguided or ill-conceived motives or justifications will suffice to strike down state regulation as violative of due process. In short, Kelley evinced unwillingness on the part of the modern Court to invalidate state regulation on the ground of substantive due process. This article explores the Kelly case and its rationale, relationship to substantive due process precedents, and what it forebodes for the future.
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