The Supreme Court

Protecting Our Privacy

A person's right to privacy permeates many of the court cases that make it all the way to the Supreme Court. From issues involving the privacy of your bedroom to the privacy of school records, many court cases involve situations where exposure could hurt you or a family member for the rest of your lives.

As you read about cases, you will see a privacy component in most of them. You may even be wondering whether you would have the courage to take a case all the way to the Supreme Court to challenge an issue, knowing that by doing so your case will become part of a very public record. In rare cases a pseudonym can be used if approved by the court, especially if there is a threat of physical harm or if intimate details are involved (such as Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade).

In this section, we'll focus on the types of cases where privacy and the government clash most often. These involve protections granted under the Fourth Amendment: “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” You may think protections relating to this amendment involve primarily criminal cases (which we'll explore in the next section) and they do, but in this section we'll concentrate on recent cases where the government abused its power and intruded on people's privacy.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Supreme Court © 2004 by Lita Epstein, J.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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