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A government's allegedly defamatory request that its prime contractor no longer assign one of its subcontractors to a particular government contract fails to rise to the level of a constitutional injury.
Plaintiff subcontractor to a subcontractor to a prime contractor with defendant United States Coast Guard (USCG) brought a procedural due process claim against the USCG and tort actions against defendant contractor for allegedly causing the termination of his at-will consulting agreement. The subcontractor argued that without providing him procedural protections, the USCG deprived him of his liberty interest in his reputation by requesting his removal from a project while spreading defamatory statements about him as a reason for the request. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. The subcontractor appealed.
Did the subcontractor suffer constitutional injury?
Even if the USCG's concerns impaired his future employment prospects, that fact alone did not amount to a constitutional injury. Rather than being foreclosed from reentering the field, the subcontractor had merely lost one position in his profession; he could still operate as a government subcontractor. Allowing the subcontractor's constitutional claim to go forward would have transformed the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause into a font of tort law in the field of government contracts.