Hicks v. District of Columbia, No. 3340.

Docket NºNo. 3340.
Citation197 A.2d 154
Case DateFebruary 05, 1964
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District

Page 154

197 A.2d 154
Eddie J. HICKS, Appellant,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Appellee.
No. 3340.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Argued November 18, 1963.
Decided February 5, 1964.
Rehearing Denied February 21, 1964.

Charles W. Wolfram, Washington, D. C., with whom M. Michael Sharlot, Washington, D. C., was on the brief, for appellant.

Ted D. Kuemmerling, Asst. Corp. Counsel, with whom Chester H. Gray, Corp. Counsel, Milton D. Korman, Principal Asst. Corp. Counsel, and Hubert B. Pair, Asst. Corp. Counsel, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before HOOD, Chief Judge, and QUINN and MYERS, Associate Judges.

HOOD, Chief Judge.


Our Code provides that certain classes of persons shall be deemed vagrants. One such class is:

"Any person leading an immoral or profligate life who has no lawful employment and who has no lawful means of support realized from a lawful occupation or source." Code 1961, 22-3302(3).

Appellant was convicted of vagrancy under this classification. On this appeal no contention is made that the evidence was insufficient to bring appellant within the classification, and the record contains no recital of the factual situation upon which the arrest and conviction were based. Appellant asserts only the claim that this classification of vagrancy is unconstitutional.

In approaching the question as presented we bear in mind two propositions.

Page 155

First, a presumption of constitutionality attaches to all Acts of Congress;1 and second, a court of limited jurisdiction should not declare an Act of Congress to be unconstitutional unless its unconstitutionality is plain and manifest.2 We also note that in at least two instances this court has held the act in question to be constitutional.3

The chief attack on the act is that the words "immoral or profligate life" are vague and uncertain to such a degree as to render the classification unconstitutional. Those words were defined in a general way by this court in Davenport v. District of Columbia, D.C.Mun.App., 61 A.2d 486 (1948), and we see no occasion to repeat or elaborate upon that definition. We note, however, that, because of what Mr. Justice Frankfurter referred to as the "intrinsic difficulties of language,"4 a certain amount of imprecision is inherent wherever words are employed. The Constitution does not require impossible standards;5 all that is required is a reasonable degree of certainty.6 Consequently the courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States,...

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11 practice notes
  • Ricks v. District of Columbia, No. 20919.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 23, 1968
    ...(D.C.App.1967), deciding also the litigation we today resolve in Ricks v. United States, supra note 4. 17 Hicks v. District of Columbia, 197 A. 2d 154 (D.C.App.1964); Beail v. District of Columbia, 82 A.2d 765 (D.C. Mun.App.1951), rev'd on other grounds 91 U.S.App.D.C. 110, 201 F.2d 176 (19......
  • Alegata v. Com.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • November 17, 1967
    ...vagrancy statutes have been upheld are: State v. Grenz, 26 Wash.2d 764, 175 P.2d 633 (5 to 4 decision); Hicks v. District of Columbia, 197 A.2d 154 (D.C.Ct.App.), cert. dism. as 'improvidently granted,' 383 U.S. 252, 86 S.Ct. 798, 15 L.Ed.2d 744; Dominguez v. City and County of Denver, 147 ......
  • Baker v. Bindner, Civ. A. No. 5648.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Kentucky
    • October 13, 1967
    ...Though we recognize that an ordinance of the type above expressed has been held to be constitutional, Hicks v. District of Columbia, 197 A.2d 154 (D.C.Ct.App.1964), and that in one such case, District of Columbia v. Ricks, D.C. App., 228 A.2d 316, wherein the district judge felt the ordinan......
  • Wheeler v. Goodman, Civ. No. 2431.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • November 14, 1969
    ...vagrancy statutes have been upheld are: State v. Grenz, 26 Wash.2d 764, 175 P.2d 633 (5 to 4 decision); Hicks v. District of Columbia, 197 A.2d 154 (D.C.Ct.App.), cert. dism. as "improvidently granted," 383 U.S. 252, 86 S.Ct. 798, 15 L.Ed.2d 744; Dominguez v. City and County of Denver, 147 ......
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11 cases
  • Ricks v. District of Columbia, No. 20919.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 23, 1968
    ...(D.C.App.1967), deciding also the litigation we today resolve in Ricks v. United States, supra note 4. 17 Hicks v. District of Columbia, 197 A. 2d 154 (D.C.App.1964); Beail v. District of Columbia, 82 A.2d 765 (D.C. Mun.App.1951), rev'd on other grounds 91 U.S.App.D.C. 110, 201 F.2d 176 (19......
  • Alegata v. Com.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • November 17, 1967
    ...vagrancy statutes have been upheld are: State v. Grenz, 26 Wash.2d 764, 175 P.2d 633 (5 to 4 decision); Hicks v. District of Columbia, 197 A.2d 154 (D.C.Ct.App.), cert. dism. as 'improvidently granted,' 383 U.S. 252, 86 S.Ct. 798, 15 L.Ed.2d 744; Dominguez v. City and County of Denver, 147 ......
  • Baker v. Bindner, Civ. A. No. 5648.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Kentucky
    • October 13, 1967
    ...Though we recognize that an ordinance of the type above expressed has been held to be constitutional, Hicks v. District of Columbia, 197 A.2d 154 (D.C.Ct.App.1964), and that in one such case, District of Columbia v. Ricks, D.C. App., 228 A.2d 316, wherein the district judge felt the ordinan......
  • Wheeler v. Goodman, Civ. No. 2431.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • November 14, 1969
    ...vagrancy statutes have been upheld are: State v. Grenz, 26 Wash.2d 764, 175 P.2d 633 (5 to 4 decision); Hicks v. District of Columbia, 197 A.2d 154 (D.C.Ct.App.), cert. dism. as "improvidently granted," 383 U.S. 252, 86 S.Ct. 798, 15 L.Ed.2d 744; Dominguez v. City and County of Denver, 147 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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