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U.S. Supreme Court

Wisconsin v. Constantineau, 400 U.S. 433 (1971)

Wisconsin v. Constantineau

No. 95

Argued December 10, 1970

Decided January 19, 1971

400 U.S. 433


The police chief of Hartford, Wisconsin, pursuant to a state statute, caused to be posted a notice in all retail liquor outlets in Hartford that sales or gifts of liquor to appellee, a resident of that city, were forbidden for one year. The statute provides for such "posting," without notice or hearing, with respect to any person who "by excessive drinking" produces certain conditions or exhibits specified traits, such as exposing himself or family "to want" or becoming "dangerous to the peace" of the community. On appellee's suit seeking, inter alia, injunctive relief, a three-judge federal court held the statute unconstitutional as violative of procedural due process.


1. The label or characterization given an individual by "posting," though a mark of serious illness to some, is to others such a stigma or badge of disgrace that procedural due process requires notice and an opportunity to be heard. Pp. 400 U. S. 436-437.

2. Since here the state statute is unambiguous and there is no uncertain issue of state law, the federal court properly proceeded to determine the federal constitutional claim. Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U. S. 241, 389 U. S. 250-251. Pp. 400 U. S. 437-39.

302 F.Supp. 861, affirmed.

DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which HARLAN, BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J.,filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 400 U. S. 439. BLACK, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 400 U. S. 443. chanrobles.com-red

Page 400 U. S. 434


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