The Law: Decisions

> When police in Jacksonville, Fla., saw a car containing two black men and two white women, they seized the couples on a tried-and-true catch-all charge: vagrancy. The couples, they said, were "prowling by auto." Police make 100,000 "vagrancy" arrests a year, according to FBI statistics, though in recent years some of these laws have been voided by courts across the country. Last week the Supreme Court struck down the Jacksonville ordinance, 7-0, in language so sweeping that few vagrancy laws in the U.S. will remain constitutional. The ordinance, deriving from medieval English laws against idleness, applies to "rogues and vagabonds,"...

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