Privacy may be defined as the right of people to make personal decisions with regard to their own intimate matters as well as the freedom of people to live their lives in a way that is reasonably secluded from public scrutiny. It may also be described as the right of people to be free from things such as the unwarranted electronic surveillance or even drug testing. Right to privacy, therefore, is a very vital element in the life of a person (Dimitrakopoulos, 2007).
Constitutional Interpretation of the Privacy Right
The right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States. However, the Supreme Court says that there are several amendments that create this right (Dimitrakopoulos, 2007). An amendment that offers this right is the fourth amendment that stops the police or any other government agents from searching the citizens or their property without any probable cause to believe that they have engaged in any crime. This amendment gives the notion that every mans home is his castle and, as a result, is the basis of the law regarding safety inspections, search warrants, wiretaps as well as any other forms of surveillance.
The right to privacy is a time travel paradox of the constitution since despite not existing in the constitutional doctrine it is the oldest constitutional right. It forms the common basis of conscience that is outlined in the first amendment, the right to be safe as stated in the fourth amendment and also the right to self-incrimination as put in the Fifth Amendment. This is despite the term privacy not being mentioned anywhere in the constitution.
The Olmstead vs. The United States was a ruling of the Supreme Court where it reviewed whether the use of wiretapped private telephone conversations gotten by police and the federal agents without judicial consent and later used as evidence in court was a violation of the defendants rights. It was decided that in this situation, neither the Fourth nor the Fifth Amendment rights of the defendant was violated. This ruling, however, was later on overturned in 1967 by Katz v the United States. Brandei argued that the invasion of the privacy of the telephone was far greater than that involved in interfering with the mails. This is because when the phone conversation is tapped, the people at both ends are invaded (Hudson, 2010).
According to map vs. Ohio, the exclusionary rule implied that all evidence found without the consent of the judicial law would be considered null and void. In her case, the obscene materials that were found in her house and that were against the codes of conduct of Ohio were all squashed away due to the violation of the fourth amendment. Therefore, violation of privacy would imply the rejection of the evidence.
The Grisswold vs. Connecticut reinforced the constitutional basis for the right to privacy as it was ruled that the Connecticut statute was unconstitutional (Hudson, 2010). Roe vs. Wade ruled it unconstitutional to ban abortions except when its intention is to save the life of the mother. It ruled that abortion could be reasonably performed during the first trimester of the pregnancy and is only unlawful when conducted in the second and third trimester. However, in the case of maternal health, a mother is allowed to undertake abortion. The decision was made because they believed that it was interfering with the privacy of the mother as child rearing decision was a personal and private matter (Hudson, 2010).
Lawrence vs. Texas was a case of deviate sexual encounter where the police forced themselves into the house only to find them in compromising situations. This was a breach of their right to privacy. Moreover, it was because the two were adults of sane mind and none of them was coerced to engaging in the affair. These three cases reinforced the constitutional basis for the right to privacy by giving more security to the citizens. Privacy Right in Public places:
Although an individual may not have the right to seclusion when in a public view, the law may still be in a position to protect him from being viewed in a manner that could be considered humiliating or even from having their confidential details exposed. For instance, the law can protect someone from being shown in the media if the image is used in a manner that is not of public interest and may cause embarrassment.
Some of the cases on privacy rights in public areas include the Florida v. Jardines case of March 2013 where the public used a dog to sniff the front part of an individuals suspected to be growing marijuana. Another case is the Missouri V. McNeely case of 2013 where an individual was subjected to blood test since he was suspected to be drunk while driving. It was ruled that the privacy was violated.
In 2012, the court ruled that placing a GPS tracker on a suspects body or car without a warrant was viewed as an unreasonable search. Those who are for the opinion of sex offenders to wear the GPS their entire lifetime claim that once identified as a threat to the society, then the government should take precaution and watch to prevent a recurrent criminal offence (Moore, 2010). However, those against the decision claim that once a sex offender has been punished , then there is no need to keep them imprisoned by the government using the GPS as they would need to move from their past to brighter future.
There have been no changes in the public towards the privacy rights due to the importance of privacy itself. The society has gone ahead to embrace and greatly support the implementation of the privacy rights of the individuals, and this is evident in many cases that fail due to the breach in privacy rights of suspects.
Snowden is a whistleblower and a hero. Despite having breached the privacy rights, he could be viewed as a champion since he brought to light a bad event that was in the interest of the public. Specifically, there is a lot of good in the bad that he did.
German, unlike The United States, has a right to publicity, a right that is equivalent to the right to privacy in the United States. This right is even more comprehensive as compared to the latter because it even offers control on the commercial use of an individuals name, image or even property.
Dimitrakopoulos, D. (2007). Individual rights and liberties under the U.S. Constitution the case law of the U.S. Supreme Court. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff.
Hudson, D. (2010). The right to privacy. New York: Chelsea House.
Moore, A. (2010). Privacy rights: Moral and legal foundations. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press.
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