MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
The District Court for the Eastern District of New York originally dismissed respondent's complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against a regulation promulgated by petitioner limiting the length of a policeman's hair. On respondent's appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, that judgment was reversed, and on remand the District Court took testimony and thereafter granted the relief sought by respondent. The Court of Appeals affirmed, and we granted certiorari, 421 U.S. 987 (1975), to consider the constitutional doctrine embodied in the rulings of the Court of Appeals. We reverse.
In 1971 respondent's predecessor, individually and as president of the Suffolk County Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, brought this action under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U. S. C. § 1983, against petitioner's predecessor, the Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department. The Commissioner had promulgated Order No. 71-1, which established hair-grooming standards applicable to male members of the police force.
The Court of Appeals held that cases characterizing the uniformed civilian services as "para-military," and sustaining hair regulations on that basis, were not soundly grounded historically.
Thereafter the District Court, under the compulsion of the remand from the Court of Appeals, took testimony on the question of whether or not there was a "genuine public need." The sole witness was the Deputy Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department, petitioner's subordinate, who testified as to the police department's concern for the safety of the patrolmen, and the need for some standards of uniformity in appearance.
Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in pertinent part:
This section affords not only a procedural guarantee against the deprivation of "liberty," but likewise protects substantive aspects of liberty against unconstitutional restrictions by the State. Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 572 (1972); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 502 (1965) (WHITE, J., concurring).
The "liberty" interest claimed by respondent here, of course, is distinguishable from the interests protected by the Court in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972); Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 (1972); Griswold v. Connecticut, supra; and Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923). Each of those cases involved a substantial claim of infringement on the individual's freedom of choice with respect to certain basic matters of procreation, marriage, and family life. But whether the citizenry at large has some sort of "liberty" interest within the Fourteenth Amendment in matters of personal appearance is a question on which this Court's cases offer little, if any, guidance. We can, nevertheless, assume an affirmative answer for purposes of deciding this case, because we find that assumption insufficient to carry the day for respondent's claim.
Respondent has sought the protection of the Fourteenth
The hair-length regulation here touches respondent as an employee of the county and, more particularly, as a policeman. Respondent's employer has, in accordance with its well-established duty to keep the peace, placed myriad demands upon the members of the police force, duties which have no counterpart with respect to the public at large. Respondent must wear a standard uniform, specific in each detail.
This view was based upon the Court of Appeals' reasoning that the "unique judicial deference" accorded by the judiciary to regulation of members of the military was inapplicable because there was no historical or functional justification for the characterization of the police as "para-military." But the conclusion that such cases are inapposite, however correct, in no way detracts from the deference due Suffolk County's choice of an organizational structure for its police force. Here the county has chosen a mode of organization which it undoubtedly deems the most efficient in enabling its police to carry out the duties assigned to them under state and local law.
The county's choice of an organizational structure, therefore, does not depend for its constitutional validity on any doctrine of historical prescription. Nor, indeed, has respondent made any such claim. His argument does
The promotion of safety of persons and property is unquestionably at the core of the State's police power, and virtually all state and local governments employ a uniformed police force to aid in the accomplishment of that purpose. Choice of organization, dress, and equipment for law enforcement personnel is a decision entitled to the same sort of presumption of legislative validity as are state choices designed to promote other aims within the cognizance of the State's police power. Day-Brite Lighting, Inc. v. Missouri, 342 U.S. 421, 423 (1952); Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 168-170 (1944); Olsen v. Nebraska, 313 U.S. 236, 246-247 (1941). Having recognized in other contexts the wide latitude accorded the government in the "dispatch of its own internal affairs," Cafeteria Workers v. McElroy, 367 U.S. 886, 896 (1961), we think Suffolk County's police regulations involved here are entitled to similar weight. Thus the question is not, as the Court of Appeals conceived it to be, whether the State can "establish" a "genuine public need" for the specific regulation. It is whether respondent can demonstrate that there is no rational connection between the regulation, based as it is on the county's method of organizing its police force, and the promotion of safety of persons and property. United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75, 100-101 (1947); Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 30-31, 35-37 (1905).
We think the answer here is so clear that the District Court was quite right in the first instance to have dismissed
The Court of Appeals relied on Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967), and amicus in its brief in support of respondent elaborates an argument based on the language in Garrity that "policemen, like teachers and lawyers, are not relegated to a watered-down version of constitutional rights." Id., at 500. Garrity, of course, involved the protections afforded by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution as made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment. Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1 (1964). Certainly its language cannot be taken to suggest that the claim of a member
The regulation challenged here did not violate any right guaranteed respondent by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the Court of Appeals was therefore wrong in reversing the District Court's original judgment dismissing the action. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is
MR. JUSTICE STEVENS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE POWELL, concurring.
I concur in the opinion of the Court and write to make clear that, contrary to the concern expressed in the dissent, I find no negative implication in the opinion with respect to a liberty interest within the Fourteenth Amendment as to matters of personal appearance. See Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 541-543 (1961) (Harlan, J., dissenting). When the State has an interest in regulating one's personal appearance, as it certainly does in this case, there must be a weighing of the degree of infringement of the individual's liberty interest against the need for the regulation. This process of analysis justifies the application of a reasonable regulation to a uniformed police force that would be an impermissible intrusion upon liberty in a different context.
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, with whom MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN joins, dissenting.
The Court today upholds the constitutionality of Suffolk County's regulation limiting the length of a policeman's
As the Court recognizes, the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee against the deprivation of liberty "protects substantive aspects of liberty against unconstitutional restrictions by the State." Ante, at 244. And we have observed that "[l]iberty under law extends to the full range of conduct which the individual is free to pursue." Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497, 499 (1954). See also Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 543 (1961) (Harlan, J., dissenting).
If little can be found in past cases of this Court or indeed in the Nation's history on the specific issue of a citizen's right to choose his own personal appearance, it is only because the right has been so clear as to be beyond question. When the right has been mentioned, its existence has simply been taken for granted. For instance, the assumption that the right exists is reflected in the 1789 congressional debates over which guarantees should be explicitly articulated in the Bill of Rights. I. Brant. The Bill of Rights 53-67 (1965). There was considerable debate over whether the right of assembly should be expressly mentioned. Congressman Benson of New York argued that its inclusion was necessary to assure that the right would not be infringed by the government. In response, Congressman Sedgwick of Massachusetts indicated:
Thus, while they did not include it in the Bill of Rights, Sedgwick and his colleagues clearly believed there to be a right in one's personal appearance. And, while they may have regarded the right as a trifle as long as it was honored, they clearly would not have so regarded it if it were infringed.
This Court, too, has taken as an axiom that there is a right in one's personal appearance.
To my mind, the right in one's personal appearance is inextricably bound up with the historically recognized right of "every individual to the possession and control of his own person," Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891), and, perhaps even more fundamentally, with "the right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men." Olmstead v. United States, supra, at 478 (Brandeis, J., dissenting). In an increasingly crowded society in which it is already extremely difficult to maintain one's identity and personal integrity, it would be distressing, to say the least, if the government could regulate our personal appearance unconfined by any constitutional strictures whatsoever.
Acting on its assumption that the Fourteenth Amendment does encompass a right in one's personal appearance, the Court justifies the challenged hair-length regulation on the grounds that such regulations may "be based on a desire to make police officers readily recognizable to the members of the public, or a desire for the esprit de corps which such similarity is felt to inculcate within the police force itself." Ante, at 248. While fully accepting the aims of "identifiability" and maintenance of esprit de corps, I find no rational relationship between the challenged regulation and these goals.
As for the first justification offered by the Court, I simply do not see how requiring policemen to maintain hair of under a certain length could rationally be argued to contribute to making them identifiable to the public as policemen. Surely, the fact that a uniformed police officer is wearing his hair below his collar will make him
As for the Court's second justification, the fact that it is the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, in his official capacity, who has challenged the regulation here would seem to indicate that the regulation would if anything, decrease rather than increase the police force's esprit de corps.
"2/75.0 Members of the Force and Department shall be neat and clean at all times while on duty. Male personnel shall comply with the following grooming standards unless excluded by the Police Commissioner due to special assignment:
"2/75.1 HAIR: Hair shall be neat, clean, trimmed, and present a groomed appearance. Hair will not touch the ears or the collar except the closely cut hair on the back of the neck. Hair in front will be groomed so that it does not fall below the band of properly worn headgear. In no case will the bulk or length of the hair interfere with the proper wear of any authorized headgear. The acceptability of a member's hair style will be based upon the criteria in this paragraph and not upon the style in which he chooses to wear his hair.
"2/75.2 SIDEBURNS: If an individual chooses to wear sideburns, they will be neatly trimmed and tapered in the same manner as his haircut. Sideburns will not extend below the lowest part of the exterior ear opening, will be of even width (not flared), and will end with a clean-shaven horizontal line.
"2/75.3 MUSTACHES: A short and neatly trimmed mustache may be worn, but shall not extend over the top of the upper lip or beyond the corners of the mouth.
"2/75.4 BEARDS & GOATEES: The face will be clean-shaven other than the wearing of the acceptable mustache or sideburns. Beards and goatees are prohibited, except that a Police Surgeon may grant a waiver for the wearing of a beard for medical reasons with the approval of the Police Commissioner. When a Surgeon prescribes that a member not shave, the beard will be kept trimmed symmetrically and all beard hairs will be kept trimmed so that they do not protrude more than one-half inch from the skin surface of the face.
"2/75.5 WIGS: Wigs or hair pieces will not be worn on duty in uniform except for cosmetic reasons to cover natural baldness or physical disfiguration. If under these conditions, a wig or hair piece is worn, it will conform to department standards." App. 57-58.
"Members of the Force will be neat and clean at all times while on duty. Male personnel will comply with the following grooming standards unless excluded by the Police Commissioner due to special assignments:
"A. Hair will be neat, clean, trimmed and present a groomed appearance. Hair will not go below the ears or the collar except the closely cut hair on the back of the neck. Pony tails are prohibited. In no case will the bulk or length of the hair interfere with the proper wear of any authorized headgear.
"B. If a member chooses to wear sideburns, they will be neatly trimmed. Sideburns will not extend below the lowest part of the ear. Sideburns shall not be flared beyond 2″ in width and will end with a clean-shaven horizontal line. Sideburns shall not connect with the mustache.
"C. A neatly trimmed mustache may be worn." Rules and Procedures, Police Department, County of Suffolk, N. Y., 2/2.16 (hereinafter Rules and Procedures).
Sections 2/75.4-2/75.5, see n. 1, supra, were simply renumbered as 2/2.16, subdivisions D and E, respectively. Deputy Commissioner Rapp's testimony on remand was directed to the regulation as modified. For present purposes, the differences are immaterial.
"The remainder of 2/2.16A, however, bears no relationship to safety but rather related to hair styling. The potential danger in hairdress is the ability of the offender to grip the hair and hold the fate of the police officer in his hand. Bulk and length of the hair is not regulated except as it interferes with `the proper wear of any authorized headgear.' Thus the regulation would permit bulky and lengthy hair on the top of the head, thereby presenting the very problem that was demonstrated. In the remaining subdivisions, sideburns, mustaches and wigs are regulated and beards are barred. No proof was offered to support any claim of the need for the protection of the police officer in the pertinent regulations." Pet. for Cert. 7a.
The District Court's findings with respect to the relationship between morale and grooming standards are as follows:
"The high morale of police personnel is a matter of grave concern to the department. Proper grooming is an ingredient of the esprit de corps of a good law enforcement organization. The self-esteem generated in the individual and the respect commanded from the public it serves promotes [sic] the efficiency of the organization's work. However, with the exception of the general requirement that hair, sideburns and mustaches be neatly trimmed, the regulations do not provide standards for proper grooming. Rather, the standards do nothing more than demand uniformity. Uniformity for uniformity's sake does not establish a public need. Defendant offered no proof that beards, goatees, hair styles that extend below the ears or collar, or sideburns that extend below the lowest part of the ear or beyond 2″ in width and do not end with a clean-shaven horizontal line affect the morale of the members of the police department or earn the disrespect of the public." Id., at 7a-8a.
While noting Rapp's testimony that uniformity was required for identification, the District Court stated: "It would appear, however, that the uniform (issued by the department) supplies the necessary identification for police work."
There are more recent instances, too, of governments regulating the personal appearance of their citizens. See, e. g., N. Y. Times, Feb. 18, 1974, p. 22, col. 4 (Czech police stop long-haired young men, telling them to get haircuts); id., July 23, 1972, p. 4, col. 1 (Libyan Government tells youths to trim hair and wear more sober clothes or submit themselves for training in the army); id., July 7, 1971, p. 22, col. 8 (over 1,000 young men rounded up and given haircuts by South Korean police in what was described by government officials as a "social purification" campaign); id., Oct. 13, 1970, p. 11, col. 1 (police force more than 1,400 South Vietnamese youths to cut their hair). It is inconceivable to me that the Constitution would offer no protection whatsoever against the carrying out of similar actions by either our Federal or State Governments.