Color of Law

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

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.

References in periodicals archive ?
public official or committed the act under color of law, the Guidelines
3d at 1316 ("Under the Alien Tort Statute, state actors are the main objects of the law of nations, but individuals may be liable, under the law of nations, for some conduct, such as war crimes, regardless of whether they acted under color of law of a foreign nation.
The Court ruled that "[p]rivate persons, jointly engaged with state officials in the prohibited action, are acting under color of law for purposes of the statute," (39) and, therefore, were criminally responsible under [section] 242.
was acting under color of law and could therefore be held liable for an
Further, the court noted that YASL could not be protected by the federal color of law statute just because YASL received the majority of its funds from government sources, and the majority of YASL employees' salaries come from state funds.
Code Section 1983, a post-Civil War statute which allows individuals to sue when police and other officials violate their federally protected rights "under color of law.
6) Under FLSA, a person is guilty of a criminal offense if he or she intentionally engages in electronic surveillance under color of law without a statutory exception or a court order.
sections] 42, which makes it a criminal act to willfully deprive a person of rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States while acting under the color of law.
The PRRA states that "no Federal, State, or local government, or any official of such a government acting under color of law, shall interfere with or usurp the right of a parent to direct the upbringing of the child of the parent.
A New Jersey judge today announced he will issue a gun permit to one of the plaintiffs in a Second Amendment Foundation lawsuit against several New Jersey officials for deprivation of civil rights under color of law, because applicants cannot show a "justifiable need" for a permit.
The officers abused their positions of authority to deprive people of their constitutional rights under the color of law.
Brendan Richards is not the only citizen faced with this kind of harassment under color of law.