Right to Privacy 


Fundamentals of Criminal Law

Adam J. McKee, Ph.D.

Jack Brown Ph.D.


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This content is released as a draft version for comment by the scholarly community.  Please do not distribute.  


Right to Privacy

The phrase right to privacy never appears in the Constitution of the United States. The USSC, however, has established that it is a fundamental constitutional right by interpreting several amendments. US Supreme Court precedent has held that the right to privacy comes from the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.  The Court reasoned that taken together, these diverse Amendments imply that the Constitution was scripted to raise a barricade between individuals and an overly intrusive government. This right to privacy is extremely important to the law of search and seizure and limits the scope of state and federal criminal statutes.  

As with other areas of law, civil liberties under the Constitution are dynamic and develop along with changing social norms.  As those rights evolve and grow, the contours of the criminal law necessarily change to accommodate them. The trend in recent years is for the scope of the criminal law to be limited to situations where privacy is an issue.  In our society today, this right to privacy ensures the right to use birth control, the right to an abortion, and the right to participate in consensual (between adults) sexual relations.

References and Further Reading

“Privacy.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. Retrieved September 06, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/privacy

“Government Surveillance and the Right to Privacy.” Lucent Terrorism Library: Civil Liberties and the War on Terrorism. Retrieved September 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/defense/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/government-surveillance-and-right-privacy

Modification History

File Created:  07/12/2018

Last Modified:  09/26/2018

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

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