DOE V. MCMILLAN, 412 U. S. 306 (1973)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Doe v. McMillan, 412 U.S. 306 (1973)

Doe v. McMillan

No. 71-6356

Argued December 13, 1972

Decided May 29, 1973

412 U.S. 306


Petitioners, parents of District of Columbia (D.C.) school children, brought this action seeking damages and declaratory and injunctive relief for invasion of privacy that they claimed resulted from the dissemination of a congressional report on the D.C. school system that included identification of students in derogatory contexts. The named defendants included members of a House committee, Committee employees, a Committee investigator, and a consultant; the Public Printer and the Superintendent of Documents; and officials and employees connected with the school system. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the complaint on the grounds that the first two categories of defendants were immune by reason of the Speech or Debate Clause, and that the D.C. officials and the legislative employees were protected by the official immunity doctrine recognized in Barr v. Matteo, 360 U. S. 564.


1. The congressional committee members, members of their staff, the consultant, and the investigator are absolutely immune under the Speech or Debate Clause insofar as they engaged in the legislative acts of compiling the report, referring it to the House, or voting for its publication. Pp. 412 U. S. 311-313.

2. The Clause does not afford absolute immunity from private suit to persons who, with authorization from Congress, perform the function, which is not part of the legislative process, of publicly distributing materials that allegedly infringe upon the rights of individuals. The Court of Appeals, therefore, erred in holding that respondents who (except for the Committee members and personnel) were charged with such public distribution were protected by the Clause. Pp. 412 U. S. 313-318.

3. The Public Printer and the Superintendent of Documents are protected by the doctrine of official immunity enunciated in Barr v. Matteo, supra, for publishing and distributing the report only to the extent that they served legitimate legislative functions in doing so, and the Court of Appeals erred in holding that their immunity extended beyond that limit. Pp. 412 U. S. 318-324.

Page 412 U. S. 307

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and POWELL, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 412 U. S. 325. BURGER, C.J.,filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 412 U. S. 331. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which BURGER, C.J.,joined, post, p. 412 U. S. 332. REHNQUIST, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BLACKMUN, J., joined, and in Part I of which STEWART, J., joined, post, p. 412 U. S. 338.

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