The Right to Privacy: Gays, Lesbians, and the Constitution

The Right to Privacy: Gays, Lesbians, and the Constitution

The Right to Privacy: Gays, Lesbians, and the Constitution

The Right to Privacy: Gays, Lesbians, and the Constitution

Synopsis

Where did the right to privacy come from and what does it mean? Grappling with the critical issues involving women and gays that relate to the recent Supreme Court appointment, Vincent J. Samar develops a definition of legal privacy, discusses the reasons why and the degree to which privacy should be protected, and shows the relationship between privacy and personal autonomy. He answers former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's questions about scope, content, and legal justification for a general right to privacy and emphasizes issues involving gays and lesbians, Samar maintains that these privacy issues share a common constitutional-ethical underpinning with issues such as abortion, surrogate motherhood, drug testing, and the right to die. Author note: Vincent J. Samar is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University of Chicago and a law professor at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago/Kent College of Law. A practicing attorney, he is an activist in Chicago's gay and lesbian communities.

Excerpt

This book has two major purposes. The first is to lay the theoretical foundation for a general right to privacy. What does privacy mean and how is the right to privacy justified? Is there an underlying principle uniting various applications of the right? When privacy conflicts with another right, how does one decide which right takes precedence? And how does privacy relate to the government's 'compelling interest' in protecting the health and welfare of its citizens? In Part One, I address these issues.

In Part Two, I take up the question of how a philosophical justification becomes a legal justification. In applying the theory, I pay particular attention to lesbian and gay issues because the privacy problems confronting these groups have generally been underappreciated in the literature and because these groups are representative of other ostracized or marginalized groups. Moreover, I believe that analyzing lesbian and gay privacy issues, along with issues such as abortion, surrogate motherhood, drug testing, and the right to die, will illustrate the common constitutional- ethical underpinnings of all these issues.

Perhaps now more than ever, the legal right to privacy is a focal point of criticism in American jurisprudence. In part, this might be explained by the recent rise in conservatism in the United States, especially on the questions of abortion and gay rights. More fundamentally, the criticisms center on the line of cases beginning with the 1965 Supreme Court decision that extended . . .

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