Course: Introduction / Criminal Law / Procedural Law
Although there is no explicit right to privacy in the text of the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court has found an implicit right on several different occasions.
Today, Fourth Amendment reasonableness hinges on the right to privacy.
While there is no explicit right to privacy stated in the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court has recognized it as an implicit right on several occasions. The right to privacy is a fundamental right that has been inferred from the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
An often-cited case in discussions of the right to privacy is Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), in which the Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut law that criminalized the use of contraception. The Court found that the law violated the right to marital privacy, a right that was not explicitly stated in the Constitution but was implied in the Bill of Rights.
The right to privacy has also been invoked in cases involving wiretapping and electronic surveillance. In Katz v. United States (1967), the Court found that the government’s use of a recording device to eavesdrop on a conversation in a public telephone booth violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Court held that individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in public places, such as telephone booths.
Today, the right to privacy is commonly invoked in cases involving electronic surveillance, data privacy, and information technology. In Carpenter v. United States (2018), the Supreme Court held that the government’s warrantless acquisition of cell-site location information violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Court found that individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their cell phone location data, which reveals sensitive information about their movements and activities.
In the criminal justice context, the right to privacy is often invoked to challenge the collection and use of evidence by law enforcement agencies. The Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures has been interpreted to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before conducting a search or seizure. Additionally, the right to privacy has been used to challenge the use of invasive searches, such as strip searches and body cavity searches, as well as the collection of DNA samples and other biometric data.
In recent years, debates over privacy and security have become increasingly complex as advances in technology have made it easier for governments and private entities to collect and analyze vast amounts of personal data. This has led to discussions about the appropriate balance between privacy and security and the extent to which the government should be allowed to intrude upon individuals’ privacy in the name of national security.
On This Site
[ Glossary ]
Last Modified: 04/09/2023