Privacy as a Constitutional Right: Sex, Drugs, and the Right to Life

Privacy as a Constitutional Right: Sex, Drugs, and the Right to Life

Privacy as a Constitutional Right: Sex, Drugs, and the Right to Life

Privacy as a Constitutional Right: Sex, Drugs, and the Right to Life


The United States Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade. When it does, that decision may be as important as the Dred Scott decision a century and a half ago. During the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas the focus was on the constitutional right to privacy and abortion. No legal concept has been more controversial and has had such a significant impact on the lives of millions of Americans. This book provides an understandable overview of the Supreme Court decisions concerned with privacy issues such as sex, drugs, abortion, and the right to die. The legal evolution of the constitutional right to privacy is explored with every significant Supreme Court decision explained along the way. This book begins with an overview of the legal history that has led to the development of a constitutional right to privacy. The relationship between morality and law, from the Hittites to the Puritans, is presented, as is the impact of the ideas of philosophers such as Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Mill, along with an overview of the concepts of Natural Law and Natural Rights. The development of the right to privacy in American Common law is presented, and the important Supreme Court decisions on privacy from Griswold to Roe v. Wade are discussed in detail.


This book is about constitutional privacy. In a nutshell, this term has to do with the extent to which the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable intrusions into their private lives.

In October 1991, with the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court, the last truly liberal justice (Thurgood Marshall) had been replaced. The United States thus will end the twentieth century as it began, with a Supreme Court significantly more conservative than the average American. How this will affect the constitutional right of privacy that the Supreme Court recognized in 1965, and particularly the right to an abortion, remains to be seen. It is generally thought--feared in some quarters, hoped in others--that the new Court will limit the right, if not eliminate it altogether.

The purpose of this book is to explain the development and nature of the constitutional right of privacy. Fundamental concerns over morality, the separation of church and state, and the inherent power of government over our lives are implicated by this right. Other issues raised are whether consenting adults may engage in intimate sexual conduct without government supervision; whether women, including minor females, may obtain an abortion; and whether people should be left free to end their lives when and under what conditions they please. These issues and others discussed in this book are of fundamental importance to many people in America.

What appears in this book is, of course, the responsibility of the authors. We wish, however, to thank in particular Mr. Edward Cavazos, a law student at the University of Texas School of Law, who assisted in the preparation of parts of this book.

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