|CONNECTICUT DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY V. DOE (01-1231) 538 U.S. 1 (2003)
271 F.3d 38, reversed.
[ Rehnquist ]
[ Scalia ]
[ Souter ]
CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY,
et al., PETITIONERS v. JOHN DOE, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
[March 5, 2003]
Chief Justice Rehnquist delivered the opinion of the Court.
We granted certiorari to determine whether the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit properly enjoined the public disclosure of Connecticuts sex offender registry. The Court of Appeals concluded that such disclosure both deprived registered sex offenders of a liberty interest, and violated the Due Process Clause because officials did not afford registrants a predeprivation hearing to determine whether they are likely to be currently dangerous. Doe v. Department of Public Safety ex rel. Lee, 271 F.3d 38, 44, 46 (2001). Connecticut, however, has decided that the registry requirement shall be based on the fact of previous conviction, not the fact of current dangerousness. Indeed, the public registry explicitly states that officials have not determined that any registrant is currently dangerous. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals because due process does not require the opportunity to prove a fact that is not material to the States statutory scheme.
Sex offenders are a serious threat in this Nation. McKune v. Lile, 536 U.S. 24, 32 (2002) (plurality opinion). [T]he victims of sex assault are most often juveniles, and [w]hen convicted sex offenders reenter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be re-arrested for a new rape or sex assault. Id., at 3233. Connecticut, like every other State, has responded to these facts by enacting a statute designed to protect its communities from sex offenders and to help apprehend repeat sex offenders. Connecticuts Megans Law applies to all persons convicted of criminal offenses against a minor, violent and nonviolent sexual offenses, and felonies committed for a sexual purpose. Covered offenders must register with the Connecticut Department of Public Safety (DPS) upon their release into the community. Each must provide personal information (including his name, address, photograph, and DNA sample); notify DPS of any change in residence; and periodically submit an updated photograph. The registration requirement runs for 10 years in most cases; those convicted of sexually violent offenses must register for life. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§54251, 54252, 54254 (2001).
The statute requires DPS to compile the information gathered from registrants and publicize it. In particular, the law requires DPS to post a sex offender registry on
an Internet Website and to make the registry available
to the public in certain state offices. §§54257, 54258. Whether made available in an office or via the Internet, the registry must be accompanied by the following warning:
Before the District Court enjoined its operation, the States Website enabled citizens to obtain the name, address, photograph, and description of any registered sex offender by entering a zip code or town name. The following disclaimer appeared on the first page of the
Petitioners include the state agencies and officials charged with compiling the sex offender registry and posting it on the Internet. Respondent Doe is a convicted sex offender who is subject to Connecticuts Megans Law. He filed this action pursuant to Rev. Stat. §1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of himself and similarly situated sex offenders, claiming that the law violates, inter alia, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, respondent alleged that he is not a
The Court of Appeals affirmed, 271 F.3d 38 (CA2 2001), holding that the Due Process Clause entitles class members to a hearing to determine whether or not they are particularly likely to be currently dangerous before being labeled as such by their inclusion in a publicly disseminated registry. Id., at 62. Because Connecticut had not provided such a hearing, the Court of Appeals enjoined petitioners from
In Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693 (1976), we held that mere injury to reputation, even if defamatory, does not constitute the deprivation of a liberty interest. Petitioners urge us to reverse the Court of Appeals on the ground that, under Paul v. Davis, respondent has failed to establish that petitioners have deprived him of a liberty interest. We find it unnecessary to reach this question, however, because even assuming, arguendo, that respondent has been deprived of a liberty interest, due process does not entitle him to a hearing to establish a fact that is not material under the Connecticut statute.
In cases such as Wisconsin v. Constantineau, 400 U.S. 433 (1971), and Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565 (1975), we held that due process required the government to accord the plaintiff a hearing to prove or disprove a particular fact or set of facts. But in each of these cases, the fact in question was concededly relevant to the inquiry at hand. Here, however, the fact that respondent seeks to provethat he is not currently dangerousis of no consequence under Connecticuts Megans Law. As the DPS Website explains, the laws requirements turn on an offenders conviction alonea fact that a convicted offender has already had a procedurally safeguarded opportunity to contest. 271 F.3d, at 44 (
In short, even if respondent could prove that he is not likely to be currently dangerous, Connecticut has decided that the registry information of all sex offenderscurrently dangerous or notmust be publicly disclosed. Unless respondent can show that that substantive rule of law is defective (by conflicting with a provision of the Constitution), any hearing on current dangerousness is a bootless exercise. It may be that respondents claim is actually a substantive challenge to Connecticuts statute recast in procedural due process terms. Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, 308 (1993). Nonetheless, respondent expressly disavows any reliance on the substantive component of the Fourteenth Amendments protections, Brief for Respondent 4445, and maintains, as he did below, that his challenge is strictly a procedural one. But States are not barred by principles of procedural due process from drawing such classifications. Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110, 120 (1989) (plurality opinion) (emphasis in original). See also id., at 132 (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment). Such claims must ultimately be analyzed in terms of substantive, not procedural, due process. Id., at 121. Because the question is not properly before us, we express no opinion as to whether Connecticuts Megans Law violates principles of substantive due process.
Plaintiffs who assert a right to a hearing under the Due Process Clause must show that the facts they seek to establish in that hearing are relevant under the statutory scheme. Respondent cannot make that showing here. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is therefore