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Kelley v. Johnson

1. Kelley v. Johnson, (1976)

2. Facts: Kelley was a police officer who wanted to wear his hair in a length and style contrary to local police standards.

3. Procedural Posture: Kelley brought an action to invalidate the local regulation. The lower courts sustained the attack, requiring the police department to establish a “genuine public need” for the regulation.

4. Issue: Whether a regulation of police officer’s personal appearance is constitutional.

5. Holding: Yes.

6. Majority Reasoning: Rehnquist applied a much more deferential standard of review ot the regulation - “rationality.” The liberty interest of personal appearance is distinguishable from that involved in Roe. Even if ther 14th amendment protected a liberty interest in personal appearance, it is outweighed under the rationality standard by the public interest in maintaining police officers readily recognizable to the public by providing uniform standards of appearance. Although a like regulation of the general public might be too intrusive, Kelley was not a “member of the citizenry at large.”

7. Dissent Reasoning: The dissent reasoned that the regulation did not pass even the rational relation standard because an individual’s personal appearance is central to personal autonomy and integrity.


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