Privacy: Constitutional Right or Misconstrued Assumption?

Written by BG Howard

July 27, 2022

Since the country was founded there has been, among most Americans, the assumption of indisputable rights we are guaranteed by the supreme law of the land:  The United States Constitution, with the most debated being the express right to privacy.  Taking another look at that issue, as there has been much debate regarding this “indelible right” as long as the country’s judicial system has been in place; I found, however, nowhere in the Constitution is this right specifically mentioned but, at best, only inferred.  Consideration of several Supreme Court decisions during recent years served to demonstrate the right to privacy is an inherent, basic human right guarded by the ideality of the 9th Amendment reading as follows:  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Complexities arise from the fact wording of the 9th Amendment is considered somewhat puzzling as it doesn’t specify the exact meaning of the term “certain rights.”  It has, nonetheless, been instrumental in establishing certain fundamental liberties that aren’t directly addressed elsewhere in the Constitution.  A group of early Americans known as Anti-Federalists argued the Constitution conferred too much power to the Federal government and subsequently sought ratification of the Bill of Rights, of which, the 9th Amendment founded a basis for the individual right to privacy.

Study of the Constitution, to include the Bill of Rights, brought about a seriously troubling conclusion with realization that the rights of people in this country are gradually being eroded.  It isn’t even possible to make certain purchases without the assignment of an email address and internet capabilities.  Every website requires disclosure of extremely personal information with any individual granted unlimited access to sites such as Google Earth,, People Finder, and a host of others that freely disclose what should be considered private facts.  Such websites make it possible for a person to access sensitive information including personal history, driving records, home addresses and actual details of ones home.  It’s perplexing as to how the government can freely allow such dissention and actually have people “watching” other people but then pass legislation regarding the acts of stalking and harassing.

Ironically, the biggest culprit in this gross degradation of personal safety would be the government itself.  As was discovered on relatively recent visits to such larger cities as New York, NY, Chicago, IL, and Miami, FL a leisurely stroll along any downtown city street will have you being watched by a number of surveillance cameras.  We are convinced by our government that these “eyes in the sky” are for the optimum benefit and overall safety of the citizens of this country.  Most every toll road in the U.S. is now outfitted with cameras or another type surveillance device and there are traffic cams at an overwhelming number of major intersections throughout the United States.

We constantly see news footage of traffic accidents, domestic incidents and all manner of occurrences that are seized by the plethora of smart phones, camera phones, or other video capable devices that have flooded the market.  There are even television shows developed on the premises of impromptu footage of unsuspecting subjects captured on tape or camera.  Granted, the act of tracking down a child molester, a burglary suspect or any criminal element is an accomplishment of paramount significance but is it really necessary to have cameras littering the streets to record the moves of every innocent citizen who passes within focus?

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when it served one just as well to present eye witness testimony in any court case but that concept has been replaced by the all too familiar viral video.  As the infinitely expanding realm of technology continues to evolve, we are persuaded it is necessary to buy into the idea of staying on the “cutting edge” which numbs us to the realities of what’s truly at hand.

With surveillance cameras at virtually every intersection, in stores, atop city buildings and the authority’s ability to subpoena such footage as well as lay seizure to electronic devices only further extends the long arm of the law.  Does that then mean we’ve already begun the downward spiral into the theoretical black hole of what could verifiably become a police state?

Society continues to be shown scenes of the diminishing good and is constantly bombarded with depictions of the bad and the ugly thereby, propagating an innate fear by which we are governed.  That fear compels citizens to willingly relinquish their rights for the sake of the “protection” they’ve been convinced is necessary to sustain their livelihood.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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