Paul v. Davis
424 U.S. 693 (1976)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693 (1976)

Paul v. Davis

No. 74-891

Argued November 4, 1975

Decided March 23, 1976

424 U.S. 693

Syllabus

A photograph of respondent bearing his name was included in a "flyer" of "active shoplifters," after he had been arrested on a shoplifting charge in Louisville, Ky. After that charge had been dismissed, respondent brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against petitioner police chiefs, who had distributed the flyer to area merchants, alleging that petitioners' action under color of law deprived him of his constitutional rights. The District Court granted petitioners' motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals reversed, relying on Wisconsin v. Constantineau,400 U. S. 433. Held:

1. Petitioners' action in distributing the flyer did not deprive respondent of any "liberty" or "property" rights secured against state deprivation by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 424 U. S. 699-710.

(a) The Due Process Clause does not ex proprio vigore extend to a person a right to be free of injury wherever the State may be characterized as the tortfeasor. Pp. 424 U. S. 699-701.

(b) Reputation alone, apart from some more tangible interests such as employment, does not implicate any "liberty" or "property" interests sufficient to invoke the procedural protection of the Due Process Clause; hence, to establish a claim under § 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment, more must be involved than simply defamation by a state official. Wisconsin v. Constantineau, supra, distinguished. Pp. 424 U. S. 701-710.

(c) Kentucky law does not extend to respondent any legal guarantee of present enjoyment of reputation that has been altered by petitioners' actions, and the interest in reputation alone is thus quite different from the "liberty" or "property" recognized in such decisions as Bell v. Burson,402 U. S. 535, and Morrissey v. Brewer,408 U. S. 471, where the guarantee of due process required certain procedural safeguards before the State could alter the status of the complainants. Pp. 424 U. S. 710-712.

2. Respondent's contention that petitioners' defamatory flyer deprived him of his constitutional right to privacy is without

Page 424 U. S. 694

merit, being based not upon any challenge to the State's ability to restrict his freedom of action in a sphere contended to be "private," but on a claim that the State may not publicize a record of an official act like an arrest. Pp. 424 U. S. 712-713.

505 F.2d 1180, reversed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, and in which WHITE, J., joined in part, post, p. 424 U. S. 714. STEVENS, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.