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

  • The police in Louisville passed out flyers with the names and photos of “known shoplifters.” Their list included Davis.
    • Davis had recently been arrested on a shoplifting charge.
  • Davis was later found innocent of shoplifting, but felt that his reputation had been damaged by the flyers. He sued the police, claiming that his liberty interests had been infringed without the procedural due process guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
    • Davis argued that even though he wasn’t a shoplifter, the local stores believed he was.
    • Davis also argued that his right to privacy has been damaged.
  • The US Supreme Court found that the flyers did not infringe on Davis’ constitutional rights.
    • The US Supreme Court found that there was no State law guaranteeing Davis any ‘enjoyment of reputation’. Therefore he had no constitutionally protected liberty interest or property interest in his reputation. Therefore no constitutional right had been infringed, and there was no due process issue.
    • The Court found that there was no right to privacy in one’s arrest record.
      • The Court found that the right to privacy was limited to “marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, and child rearing and education.”
    • The Court suggested that the civil tort law system was still available to Davis, if he wanted to sue the police for libel under State law.
      • So basically, Davis still might have a claim, but that claim would be based on State Statutes against libel or slander, not based on any constitutionally guaranteed right.