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Wisconsin v. Constantineau

    Brief Fact Summary. Pursuant to Wisconsin Statute Section:176.26 (Act), the chief of police of Hartford, Wisconsin posted a notice in all liquor stores in Hartford that sale of liquor to Appellee for one year. Appellee brought suit in a federal district court to have the Act declared unconstitutional.
    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Where government action will impact a person’s reputation in the community, procedural due process is required.

    Facts. The Act allowed designated persons to forbid sale or gift of liquor to persons who “by excessive drinking” demonstrated traits that rendered them possibly “dangerous to the community,” and the chief of police posted notices about the Appellee without any prior notice.

    Issue. Did the label or characterization given by “posting” under the Act require procedural due process?

    Held. Yes. Due process required notice and an opportunity to be heard before the posting of such a stigmatizing notice, which was the equivalent of an official branding of the Appellee. The notice was stigmatizing and harmful to Appellee’s reputation in the community. Dissent. None. Concurrence. None.

    Discussion. Where a person’s good name, reputation, honor or integrity is at stake because of what the government is doing to him, notice and an opportunity to be heard are essential. “Posting” under the Act without any notice was unconstitutional.


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