Dead Man Walking: The Rights of the Dead Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Due Process Clause

Our country is constantly evolving and at the core of that evolution are people fighting to advance their civil rights. Today we are seeing an evolution in gay rights and First Amendment rights, but what about a group that lacks a voice. What rights do dead bodies have? What happens upon the discovery that a former employee of the morgue was engaging in sexual acts with dead bodies? Does the immediate family have any rights? 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides parties the opportunity to file a civil action for the deprivation of rights when there is state action that deprived an individual of federal statutory or constitutional rights. In order to establish a constitutional deprivation, parties must establish a violation of their right to substantive and procedural due process. The Sixth Circuit will be addressing a variety of these topics when it hears the appeal of Range v. Douglas, 878 F.Supp.2d 869 (S.D. Ohio 2012). This article examines the rights of dead bodies by analyzing the holding in Range v. Douglas and analyzes how substantive due process and procedural due process come into play. This article will draw the line for when organizations and people violate the rights of dead bodies for a suit filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.