Color of Law

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Color of Law

The appearance of a legal right.

The act of a state officer, regardless of whether or not the act is within the limits of his or her authority, is considered an act under color of law if the officer purports to be conducting himself or herself in the course of official duties.

Under the civil rights act of 1871 (42 U.S.C.A. Section 1983), color of law is synonymous with State Action, which is conduct by an officer that bears a sufficiently close nexus to a state so that the action is treated as though it is by the state.


Ku Klux Klan Act.

color of law

n. the appearance of an act being performed based upon legal right or enforcement of statute, when in reality no such right exists. An outstanding example is found in the civil rights acts which penalize law enforcement officers for violating civil rights by making arrests "under color of law" of peaceful protestors or to disrupt voter registration. It could apply to phony traffic arrests in order to raise revenue from fines or extort payoffs to forget the ticket.