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The right to privacy isn't directly mentioned in the Constitution, but the US Supreme Court has held that it is a fundamental liberty deserving protection because privacy is implied in the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments (Due Process Clause).

The judicial concept of "Substantive Due Process," holds that the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause is intended to protect all unenumerated rights considered fundamental and "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," among these the right to privacy. Use of Substantive Due Process is considered judicial activism, in that it seeks to limit the scope of laws that undermine personal liberty, even if the law doesn't address a right specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

In the past, (Lochner Era: c.1897-1937, second industrial revolution) Courts used Substantive Due Process in a way that reduced individual protection from exploitation by businesses and the government, such as protecting the "right" of the individual to negotiate contracts with an employer by holding minimum wage and work conditions laws unconstitutional.

Today, Substantive Due Process is used to protect the individual against exploitation or legislation that creates an undue burden on individuals, or on an identifiable group or class of citizens.

The Supreme Court first declared an individual's right to privacy in the case Griswold v. Connecticut, (1965), which overturned a Connecticut law prohibiting doctors from counseling married couples on the use of Birth Control. The Court held the state had no legitimate interest interfering in communication between a doctor and patient, that the nature of the discussion was private.

Griswold set the precedent used to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade, (1973) and to decriminalize intimate sexual practices between consenting adults in Lawrence v. Texas,(2003).

In order to determine whether the government has valid cause to interfere in people's lives, the Court applies a "rational basis test" to determine whether the legislation is related to a legitimate government interest.

If the law passes the rational basis test, the Court next applies "strict scrutiny" to determine whether there is a compelling state interest that justifies violating the groups' or individuals' fundamental rights, and whether the law is applied as narrowly as possible to infringe those rights as little possible.

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13y ago
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14y ago

At the time of the framing of the constitution, the concept of 'privacy' was not really differentiated from the concept of 'private property'. It was assumed (reasonably, given the technological level of the time) that protecting people's homes, businesses, and otherphysical property from governmental interference was sufficient to guarantee a citizen's liberty, and there are provisions in the constitution to prevent that kind of thing (such as the 4th amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure - noting that that particular protection has fallen on some fairly hard times). The framers could not have imagined a world in which technology could so thoroughly invade non-material privacy (conversations, personal interactions, leisure time activities, etc) and therefore made no provisions for it. However, the general tenor of the constitution would suggest that the framers would probably have considered this kind of privacy to be a right inherent to the people (rather than the federal government or the individual states).


It would depend upon the situation. The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of privacy in some matters, but, not all.

Sodomy Laws (usually to punish homosexuals for being gay) were found Unconstitutional by the Court, and all citizens, male or female, over the age of 18 or 21 (depending upon the regulations of each state), and both agreeing to consent, have the legal right under the Constitution of the United States to have the Right to Privacy when in sexual contact.

When it comes to Drugs. The United States Supreme Court ruled a few years back that police officers in some cases can enter homes without a search warrant. In such a case, a home that has been trafficking illegal drugs, and has been under surveillance by the police for a reasonable period of time.

A woman has the right to privacy when getting an abortion. However, those who are against the process can demonstrate outside of doctor's officers, or at abortion clinics. As long as those individuals keep a certain distance.

So, when it comes to the subject of privacy, and depending on the situation. You can never really tell which way the Supreme Court will go, until they make their final rulings.

But, it should also be noted the United States Congress, has the power to pass or refuse to pass laws that protect the rights of privacy. However, it is the Supreme Court that has the final say.

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15y ago

The government cannot prevent individuals from freely expressing their opinions. Citizens must have the right to criticize government officials and decisions, and they are allowed to spread unpopular ideas. The First Amendment not only protects individual speech, but also extends to the circulation of ideas in the newspapers, books, magazines, radio, television, and, to some extent, movies. Unlike the press in some other countries, the American press is not subject to prior restraint, that is government censorship of information before it is published.

The freedoms of speech and the press are not unlimited, however. For example, laws prohibit slander and libel. Slander is false speech intended to damage a person's reputation. Libel is similar to slander, except that it applies to written or published statements. Endangering the nation's safety by giving away military secrets or calling for the violent overthrow of the government also are not protected. Courts have also held that speech should be responsible. For example, no one has the right to cry "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater just to see what happens.

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13y ago

There is no amendment that guarantees the Right to Privacy. But, the amendments that are referenced when arguing the Right to Privacy are the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th and 14th.

So, the final answer is 'NO, there is not.'

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13y ago

Freedom of speech is covered by the First Amendment. The text states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

There is nothing in the text of the constitution about the right to privacy.

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12y ago

Yes, the first ammendment in the constitution gives us the right to free speech, as well as freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.

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Q: Should the constitution guarantee the right to privacy?
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Continue Learning about American Government

Where does the Constitution grant the Federal government the right to appropriate funding for education and entitlement programs?

The US Constitution does not guarantee education as a right or entitlement. That has been added by statute and regulation.

How right to privacy is implied by other constitutional rights guaranteed in the Constitution?

Two amendments in the Bill of Rights imply a right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from "unreasonable search and seizure". But in recent years, the Tenth Amendment is often cited as the basis of a right to privacy. The Tenth Amendments states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Some scholars and Constitutional experts believe that if there is no constitutional provision allowing an invasion of privacy by the government, then the people can claim power over their own privacy or the "right to be let alone." This belief has formed the basis in arguments in favor of the right to abortion, same-sex marriage and medical marijuana laws, among others.

What is the right to privacy?

In recent years there have been only few attempts to clearly and precisely define a "right to privacy." Some experts assert that in fact the right to privacy "should not be defined as a separate legal right" at all. By their reasoning, existing laws relating to privacy in general should be sufficient. Other experts, such as Dean Prosser, have attempted, but failed, to find a "common ground" between the leading kinds of privacy cases in the court system, at least to formulate a definition. One law school treatise from Israel, however, on the subject of "privacy in the digital environment," suggests that the "right to privacy should be seen as an independent right that deserves legal protection in itself." It has therefore proposed a working definition for a "right to privacy":The right to privacy is our right to keep a domain around us, which includes all those things that are part of us, such as our body, home, property, thoughts, feelings, secrets and identity. The right to privacy gives us the ability to choose which parts in this domain can be accessed by others, and to control the extent, manner and timing of the use of those parts we choose to disclose.ssAs

What does Admendment 5 of the US Constitution guarantee or protect?

Your right to not testify in court against yourself. If your testimony will incriminate you, or find you guilty, you have the right to take the fifth amendment and choose not testify.

How many times is the word privacy mentioned in the constitution including articles and amendments?

(1) Only once does it even say private. (The fifth amendment)(2) The Ninth Amendment reads: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Related questions

Is it true that there is no specific guarantee of a right to privacy in the constitution?

True, but the 9th Amendment says that the rights listed in the constitution are not the only ones that the people have. The 9th amendment means that just because the authors of the constitution may have not mentioned a certain right in that document, this is not evidence that the right doesn't really exist. Strangely, the Supreme Court didn't use the 9th Amendment when it found a "privacy right" to abortion, or to marry someone of another race, or to buy birth control. I forget what part of the constitution they cited as being the source of this right to privacy.

What is the right to protect privacy called?

There is no right to privacy- it is assumed from something else in the constitution.

Is a right to privacy guaramteed by the constitution?

The fourth ammendment

Why isn't privacy mention in The US Constitution?

The meanings of some words have changed since the 18th century. "The right to privacy" in 1776 meant the right to go to the bathroom. The right to (21st century meaning) privacy is in the Constitution, but they used different words that made sense then.

What year was the constitution amended to guarantee former slaves the right to vote?


Which rights does the US Constitution NOT guarantee?

the right to own a home :P

Although there is no mention of privacy in the Constitution courts have recognized a constitutional right of privacy in the areas of sex reproductions and family life?


Where does it say you have a right to privacy?

The US Constitution doesn't explicitly mention the right to privacy, but it is implied by the language of the First, Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. For a more in-depth discussion of the right to privacy, see Related Questions, below.

What right did the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution guarantee to women?

The right for all women across the nation to have the right to vote.

Which right is recognized by some state constitution but absent in the us constitution?

the guarantee of equal rights between men and women

What makes something a right when dealing with constitution and rights?

ANYTHING issued as a right or is IMPLIED as a right within the Bill of Rights. An IMPLIED right is privacy, NO WHERE in the Constitution is privacy listed as a right; however, the U.S. S.C. had implied privacy as a right such as the 4th amendment when pertaining to search and seizures and also as recognized by the U.S.S.C. in Roe v Wade in the abortion issue (privacy) and also in Griswold v. Connecticut (marital contraception issues) and many more. Just because you do NOT view the word RIGHT in the area of the constitution you are viewing, DOES NOT mean you have no right. The U.S. Supreme Court has made NUMEROUS rulings giving citizens rights that were never listed or implied in the Constitution.

How does the Bill of Rights guarantee right beyond those listed in the Constitution?

by the Bill of Rights.