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Paul v. Davis

United States Supreme Court
424 U.S. 693 (1976)



Mr. Paul (defendant), the Chief of Police of the Louisville, Kentucky, and Mr. McDaniel (defendant), the Chief of Police of the Jefferson County, Kentucky, combined efforts to alert local area merchants about possible shoplifters who might be operating during the Christmas season. To this end, Paul and McDaniel distributed a flyer to approximately 800 merchants in the Louisville metropolitan area containing the photographs and names of persons who, during the previous two years, had been arrested or active in various criminal fields in high density shopping areas. The flyer identified the individuals named and photographed as “active shoplifters.” Edward Charles Davis III (plaintiff) was one of the individuals identified in the flyer. He sued Paul and McDaniel, arguing that the flyer violated his due process rights to the extent that the “active shoplifter” designation in the flyer deprived him of his liberty. Specifically, Davis argued that the designation would inhibit him from entering business establishments and impair his future employment opportunities. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether Davis’s charge that the defendants’ defamation of him, standing alone and apart from any other governmental action, stated a claim for relief under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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