The private party legal definition serves to protect everyone's personal information from the public. This right to privacy is referred to as "the right to be left alone" according to U.S. Justice Louis Brandeis. The Supreme Court has said that there are several amendments to the United States Constitution that suggest that individuals have the right to privacy.

An example of this is the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which protects the health information of a person. Another example is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)'s mandatory guarantee of the right to privacy regarding different privacy statements and privacy policies.

Right to Privacy: Constitutional Rights

The right to privacy needs to be fair when put against the state's interests, which include improving the quality of life and encouraging public safety. Examples of this include requirements for motorcycle helmets and seat-belt laws. Many Americans are aware that the government collects personal information, and most accept government surveillance. The right to privacy also means the individual's right to personal independence. This can also mean the right to have particular experiences or to be able to choose to participate in particular activities.


There are a few amendments to the U.S. Constitution that have been used successfully in courts of law to determine the right to personal autonomy. These include:

  • The First Amendment, which protects the privacy of beliefs.
  • The Third Amendment, which protects the privacy of the home from being used to house soldiers.
  • The Fourth Amendment, which protects the privacy against searches that are unreasonable.
  • The Fifth Amendment, which protects against testifying against oneself, which also protects the privacy of personal information.

The Ninth Amendment states that the "enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people." This statement has been interpreted as justification for using the Bill of Rights to protect privacy in ways that are not specified in the first eight amendments. The Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment mentions the right to privacy the most out of all of them. It states: "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Court Cases

The protections have been defined very closely and usually only refer to procreation, marriage, child-rearing, family, and motherhood. An example of this is when the Supreme Court first identified that different Bill of Rights guarantees a "zone of privacy" in "Griswold vs. Connecticut, which gave marital privacy and removed bans on contraception in 1965. In reference to Stanley vs. Georgia, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote that If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch."

Roe v. Wade, the controversial case in 1972, established the right to privacy as necessary and required that if the government broke this, this could be justified by convincing state interest. With Roe, the court ruled that the state's strong interest was that an abortion could be stopped and the life of the mother protected was more important than the mother's right to make decisions once the child was determined viable. If a child was determined to be unable to survive at the time of termination, then the mother has a right to privacy without the state interfering.

In 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, the court reversed a ruling that had been made earlier that found that Texas had violated the rights of two gay men when a law was enforced that disallowed sodomy. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote down, "The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government."

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