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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Getting US some privacy.

Although the right to privacy is part of some states' constitutions [such as Alaska and California], there is no such right in the US Constitution. While the right of a woman to choose an abortion, for example, does rest on the right to privacy, that right exists only because of the Supreme Court's 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut. In that ruling, the justices held that Connecticut's ban on birth control violated the right to privacy of married couples. Even though a right to privacy wasn't spelled out in the Constitution, said the Court majority, the various protections granted to individuals under the Bill of Rights created 'penumbras' [zones] that have the effect of a constitutional right to privacy. Despite the Court's coninuing use of this implied right to privacy in deciding cases scuh as Roe v. Wade, that right has a precarious existence that depends on the continuing willingness of the Supremes to uphold it.

As columnist/writer Dan Savage points out, the question of whether the right to privacy exists and, if so, where in the Constitution it can be found comes back to vex the country every time that a Supreme Court seat needs to be filled. The new chief justice, John Roberts, expressed some doubts about how extensive that right is during his confirmation, and Samuel Alito is sure to be asked about it when his confirmation hearings begin in the new year. Savage suggests that it's time to turn the right to privacy into something beside a political [and judicial] football:

Well, if the right to privacy is so difficult for some people to locate in the Constitution, why don't we just stick it in there? Wouldn't that make it easier to find?

If the Republicans can propose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, why can't the Democrats propose a right to privacy amendment? Making this implicit right explicit would forever end the debate about whether there is a right to privacy. And the debate over the bill would force Republicans who opposed it to explain why they don't think Americans deserve a right to privacy — which would alienate not only moderates, but also those libertarian, small-government conservatives who survive only in isolated pockets on the Eastern Seaboard and the American West.

Of course, passing a right to privacy amendment wouldn't end the debate over abortion — that argument would shift to the question of whether abortion fell under the amendment. But given the precedent of Roe, abortion rights would be on firmer ground than they are now.

This magpie thinks that Savage's solution is dead-on. How about it, Democrats?

Via NY Times.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:07 AM | Get permalink




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