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Right to Privacy

Right to Privacy

Home Civics Right to Privacy Teaching Discussion and Essay Questions

Discussion and Essay Questions

Available to teachers only as part of the Teaching the Right to PrivacyTeacher Pass

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Sample of Discussion and Essay Questions

  1. Is There a Right to Privacy?
  2. Privacy Torts
    • How do people most commonly seek redress when they believe that their privacy has been violated?
      • What is a tort?
      • Are most torts heard in criminal or civil trials?
        • What is the difference?
      • Why do you suppose people can usually only seek civil remedies for violations of their privacy?
  3. Expressed Privacy Rights in the Constitution
    • Does the Fourth Amendment hamstring the police?
      • Do the exceptions allowing for warrantless searches provide police the flexibility they need to do their job?
      • Or are these exceptions too generous?
    • According to the Katz ruling, privacy rights must be respected wherever and whenever people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. A warrant must be obtained in order to violate this privacy.
      • Does this seem reasonable, or excessive?
      • What level of privacy should a person be able to expect in a public place?
        • Should the police have to obtain a warrant to tap a public phone?
        • Can a whispered conversation in a restaurant booth be taped without a warrant?
  4. Implied Privacy Rights in the Constitution
  5. Strict Constructionism and Privacy
    • What exactly are “penumbras?” What was Justice Douglas saying about the Bill of Rights?
      • Is this a logical or problematic concept?
    • What “zone of privacy” or “penumbras” do you see emanating from the Fourth Amendment?
      • "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."
    • Is there a “zone of privacy” or “penumbras” emanating from the First Amendment?
      • "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
    • Answer these questions from a strict constructionist point of view.
    • Now answer them using the broadest possible construction of these constitutional amendments.


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