Manning v. Caldwell

Virginia law lets circuit courts declare someone a “habitual drunkard,” which makes it a crime for that someone to possess alcohol or be drunk in public. Several homeless alcoholics, each prosecuted multiple times after being so declared, sue. Fourth Circuit (en banc, over a dissent): The case should not have been dismissed. The law doesn’t specify what makes someone a “habitual drunkard,” so judges can make up their own subjective standards. And if a “habitual drunkard” is just anyone who suffers from alcoholism, that potentially violates the Eighth Amendment since the law has the effect of punishing people for drinking they cannot control.

Tags: 2019, Eighth Amendment, En Banc, Fourth Circuit

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