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Right to Privacy

Right to Privacy

Home Civics Right to Privacy Teaching Pitfalls & Opportunities

Pitfalls & Opportunities

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Sample of Pitfalls & Opportunities


A right to privacy may be one of those “self-evident” truths that Thomas Jefferson talked about in the Declaration of Independence. Or it might not. The word “privacy” cannot be found anywhere in the Constitution. Therefore defining the breadth and limitation of such a right has been a controversial task left to the courts.

In setting about this task, the courts have worked from the Constitution outward—that is, they have started with the more “expressed suggestions” of privacy rights in the Third and Fourth Amendments before moving on to more subtle and implied rights lying in the “penumbras” of the Bill of Rights. This should provide you with an opportunity to explore the concepts of judicial activism and judicial restraint. Have the courts exercised a reasonable and appropriate use of their interpretive power in defining privacy rights? Or have they pushed the definition too far beyond the intentions of the framers and even the spirit of the amendments?


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