What does “Under Color of Law” mean?
Color of law refers to an appearance of legal power to act that may operate in violation of law. For example, if a police officer acts with the “color of law” authority to arrest someone, the arrest, if it is made without probable cause, may actually be in violation of law. In other words, just because something is done with the “color of law” does not mean that the action was lawful.
This is what we see going on across the country. Law enforcement are being directed to act unlawfully under Covid-19 restrictions. Below is the Justice Department’s definition and interpretation of the rule.
Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.
The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.
We will see this defense being used by more businesses and individuals as a defense for being outdoors or opening a “non-essential” business.
This is a monumental time in the US. The people have — up to now — given over their rights for the common good. However, this cannot last much longer.
The fact that Americans are being harassed, fined or jailed for exercising their rights will bring down this government-imposed lock down.
The harm done to 99% of Americans during this lock down far outweigh any benefits to overall society. Another plan needs to be implemented to protect the vulnerable while allowing the rest of us to get back to work and some semblance of normalcy.