Legal Memorandum: Void for Vagueness Doctrine

Issue: In federal courts, when will a local ordinance be found unconstitutionally void for vagueness?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Void for vagueness; Facial challenge; Ordinance
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 12/01/2013


The circumstances in which an allegedly facially vague ordinance will not be enforced are limited.  The Eleventh Circuit has held:

A facial challenge, as distinguished from an as-applied challenge, seeks to invalidate a statute or regulation itself. Generally, for a facial challenge to succeed in this context the challenger must establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the Act would be valid. Consequently, “[f]acial vagueness occurs when a statute is utterly devoid of a standard of conduct so that it simply has no core and cannot be validly applied to any conduct.” Conversely, if persons of reasonable intelligence “can derive a core meaning from a statute, then the enactment may validly be applied to conduct within that meaning and the possibility of a valid application necessarily precludes facial invalidity.”


Indigo Room Inc v. City of Fort Meyers 710 F.3d 1294, 1302 (11th Cir. 2013) TA l "Indigo Room Inc v. City of Fort Meyers 710 F.3d 1294 (11th Cir. 2013)" s "Indigo Room Inc v. City of Fort Meyers (11th Cir. 2013)" c 1  (citations and some internal quotation marks omitted). 


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