Daniels v. Williams

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In Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the point that "our Constitution deals with the large concerns of the governors and the governed, but it does not purport to supplant traditional tort law in laying down rules of conduct to regulate liability for injuries that attend living together in society."

The Court rejected the lowest common denominator of customary tort liability as any mark of sufficiently shocking conduct, and held that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee due care on the part of state officials; liability for negligently inflicted harm is categorically beneath the threshold of constitutional due process.

The Court held that conduct intended to injure in some way unjustifiable by any government interest is the sort of official action most likely to rise to the conscience-shocking level. "Historically, this guarantee of due process has been applied to deliberate decisions of government officials to deprive a person of life, liberty, or property." Id. at 331.

Justice William Rehnquist wrote the decision for the Court shortly prior to being elevated to Chief Justice.