Firebrand Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio’s requirement that jail inmates wear pink underwear may be unconstitutional when applied to prisoners who haven’t been convicted of a crime, a federal appeals court said on Wednesday. Reuters says two members of a three-judge appeal panel raised the issue while ruling for the majority in a related lawsuit against Arpaio and Maricopa County. But they stopped short of striking down the pink-underwear practice, saying it had not been formally challenged by plaintiffs in the case.
Pink underwear for male jail inmates is famously part of the tough stance against crime taken by Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County who has come under fire by the U.S. Justice Department for a crackdown on illegal immigration that the government said involved racial profiling. “Unexplained and undefended, the dress-out in pink appears to be punishment without legal justification,” U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John T. Noonan wrote for the majority.