Deshaney v. Winnebago County & the 'Blessings of Liberty'
Civil Rights Stories (Myriam Gilles & Risa Goluboff eds., Foundation Press, 2007), pp. 185-210
26 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2013 Last revised: 6 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 4, 2013
This chapter offers a detailed portrait of the constitutional violations alleged in the DeShaney case, which involved a civil rights claim for damages against a county social worker and agency for failing to intervene to protect a young child, Joshua DeShaney, from his father’s physical abusive conduct. The chapter situates the case in the broader legal context of “failure to protect” claims under Section 1983 and provides a critical analysis of Justice Rehnquist’s bright-line distinction between state and private action.
Keywords: Section 1983, affirmative duties, civil rights, Rehnquist
JEL Classification: K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation