As will be discussed in detail below, the substan-tive “liberty” guaranteed by the Due Process Clause has been variously defined by the Court. In the early years, it meant almost exclusively “liberty of contract,” but with the demise of liberty of contract came a general broadening of “liberty” to include personal, political and social rights and privileges.58 Nonetheless, the Court is generally chary of expanding the concept absent statutorily recognized rights.59


See the tentative effort in Hampton v. Mow Sun Wong, 426 U.S. 88, 102 & n.23 (1976), apparently to expand upon the concept of “liberty” within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and necessarily therefore the Fourteenth’s. back
See the substantial confinement of the concept in Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215 (1976); and Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236 (1976), in which the Court applied to its determination of what is a liberty interest the “entitlement” doctrine developed in property cases, in which the interest is made to depend upon state recognition of the interest through positive law, an approach contrary to previous due process-liberty analysis. Cf. Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 482 (1972). For more recent cases, see DeShaney v. Winnebago County Social Servs. Dep’t, 489 U.S. 189 (1989) (no due process violation for failure of state to protect an abused child from his parent, even though abuse had been detected by social service agency); Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115 (1992) (failure of city to warn its employees about workplace hazards does not violate due process; the due process clause does not impose a duty on the city to provide employees with a safe working environment); County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833 (1998) (high-speed automobile chase by police officer causing death through deliberate or reckless indifference to life would not violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of substantive due process). But see Chavez v. Martinez, 538 U.S. 760 (2003) (case remanded to federal circuit court to determine whether coercive questioning of severely injured suspect gave rise to a compensable violation of due process). back