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The void for vagueness doctrine is a rule implemented
by the constitution, that requires criminal laws to state exactly what conduct
is punishable. If a criminal law violates the requirements, it is said
to be called “void for vagueness”. The vagueness doctrine is based on the due
processes of the fifth and fourteenth amendments, that are placed in the U.S.

Constitution. The vagueness doctrine also helps to prevent arbitrary
enforcement of the laws, this requires fair notice of what is punishable by law
or what’s not punishable by law. (Cornell Law School, 2017)

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In
simpler terms, the void for vagueness doctrine says that “a
law cannot be enforced if it is it is so vague or confusing that the average
person could not figure out what is being prohibited or what the penalties are
for breaking that law.” (Rottenstein Law Group, 2014) There are two ways
that a law can be unconstitutionally vague. The first way a law can be vague is
if it doesn’t thoroughly
explain or say what behavior that the law is meant to affect. If a typical
average person cannot decide from reading the law, what they should or shouldn’t do concerning the law, then the law is said
to be vague and it violates the due process. The second way a law can be vague,
is if it does not completely explain a certain procedure that the courts and
law enforcement must abide to. (Rottenstein Law Group, 2014)

            Recently, the void for vagueness
doctrine was brought about and applied to the U.S. Immigration laws. The U.S. government was targeting
noncitizens that obtained criminal convictions, and ordering them to be removed
from the country. During Barack Obama’s presidency, his administration deported
over 2.5 million noncitizens. The Supreme Court found
that Obama’s administration went overboard with the
deportations and had set aside for the removal of criminal offenders. This happening
was inconsistent with the immigration statute. 

(Johnson, 2017)

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