Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, individuals may sue those who violate their constitutional rights while acting under color of state law. The Supreme Court has held that private actors may act under color of state law, and may be sued under § 1983 in some circumstances. However, courts have not been consistent in determining whether private university police forces act under color of state law. Private universities often maintain police forces that are given extensive police powers by state statutes but are controlled by private entities. Some courts have looked directly to the state statutes that delegate police power, but others have maintained a more fact-specific inquiry. The state enabling statutes themselves vary in their terms, but not their effects, and are thus partially responsible for this inconsistency. This Note proposes a model statute framework for delegating powers to private university police forces. Such a framework would better allow courts to apply the § 1983 color of law test consistently. A model statute would also clarify the role of campus police forces and would require minimal change in the operation of private campus police forces. The resulting consistency would ensure that no citizen is deprived of a remedy for a violation of constitutional rights.
Leigh J. Jahnig,
Under School Colors: Private University Police as State Actors Under § 1983,
Nw. U. L. Rev.