Many people have debatable ideas of what privacy, invasion of privacy, and privacy rights are, but nonetheless most people have ideas or an opinion on such topics. “Deﬁnitions of privacy can be couched in descriptive or normative terms. People may view privacy as a derivative notion that rests upon more basic rights such as liberty or property.” (Moore, 2008, p. 411) Even with the many explanations of privacy rights that we individually claim, we should all be able to agree that to some degree our right to privacy is essential and necessary for our day to day functions. Even with our own opinions, we should all have some kind of understanding as to what the US Constitution states about our privacy rights and what is and is not considered state and federal violations. Since the US Constitution was not necessarily written to deal with the issues that are important in society today, such as same sex marriages and the option to get and perform an abortion, privacy violations can be considered arguable and often controversial. For that reason, the questions remain, how clear is the US Constitution in describing our privacy rights, has the privacy act gone too far with invading our privacy, and what will the future behold? The answers to these questions begin with the law. The US Constitution is the supreme law in the United States and we as US citizens use it to protect us from the government making circumstances unconstitutional if these rights are violated. The US Constitution does not mention the right to privacy directly, however a couple of amendments to the Bill of Rights were attempted in order to protect our privacy rights. The first amendment that I consider to protect our privacy from the US government is Amendment IV. It states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against reasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things seized.” (U.S. Const. amend. 4)
This would mean that we are protected from government officials as it refers to random searches without warrants right? Under the US Constitution that is exactly what is stated, however, there are other specified powers given to the states. Take the stop and frisk law in Ohio for instance. Stop and frisk is to be used only when police officials believe that an individual has committed a crime and or is about to commit a crime and it is based on the fact that a police officer believes a suspect has a weapon. (Ivers, 2013, 8.2) In 1968, Terry vs. Ohio was an example of a case that demonstrated the stop and frisk law. An officer by the name of Martin McFadden decided that some men outside of a jewelry store looked suspicious. After stating who he was, he searched the men and found a gun. John Terry, one of the suspects, believed that under the fourth amendment there was no probable cause for the police officer to search him or his associate because no crime was committed at that time. The courts ruled that though the Fourth Amendment outlaws the police from random searches without probable cause, in this particular situation the court ruled Officer McFadden had probable cause and Mr. Terry was suspicious at the time that the search was conducted. (Maccrone, 1983) Though John Terry did not have a permit to carry his concealed weapon, was he really searched in accordance with the US Constitution and how clear was it in this case? Again, these are questions that can be arguably answered because the American Constitution does not make a known reference to privacy. Another case that violates privacy of US Citizens is Griswold v. Connecticut. At the time of this particular case, Connecticut law did not permit the use of birth control. Estelle Griswold was arrested and found guilty as an accessory for providing (at the time) an illegal contraception to a...
References: Farrell, M. (2010). Obama signs Patriot Act Extension Without Reforms. The CS Monitor.
Fathers, F. (1868, July 9). US Constitution Fourteenth Amendment.
Ivers, G. (2013). Constitutional Law: An Introduction. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Lawrence vs. Texas. (2003, June 26). Retrieved from Cornell University Law School: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/02-102.ZS.html
Maccrone, C. (1983). Terry Vs. Ohio . Rockville, MD: Charles S Maccrone Productions.
McBribe, A. (2006). Expanding Civil Rights. PBS.
Moore, A. (2008). Defining Privacy. United States: Journal Of Social Philosophy.
Obama, P. (2014). Obama’s Speech on N.S.A. Phone Surveillance. Obama’s speech on National Security Agency data collection programs. Washington Dc: New York Times.
Plumer, B. (2013). Eight Facts About Terrorism in the United States. Washington Post.
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