Privacy Rights

Privacy rights are controversial due to the fact that they are not specifically granted to us through the Constitution. For example, there is no "right to privacy" in the Bill of Rights. However, in the case Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled that through the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth amendments we all inherently have the right to privacy. This right takes form in 3 main ways:

-The right to be free from governmental surveillance; especially regarding sexuality. -The right to not have the government make private, or personal, affairs public. And -The right to be free in thought and belief from governmental regulations.

Those three rights are nearly set in stone, and have common consensus towards their existence, but not every right to privacy is equally agreed upon. Controversial privacy rights include state regulation of abortion and adult sexual conduct between partners of certain sexuality. These privacy rights are likely to not make an appearance in the Constitution of the United States due to them being so controversial, which leaves them up to the individual state constitutions to decide.

Sexual Orientation

People with different sexual orientations such as gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals have been discriminated by not only the citizens, but also by the government. In cases like Bower v. Hardwick (1986) the Supreme Court ruled that there are no extended protection to private relations between homosexual couples. The result was a 5-to-4 vote that resulted in the Georgia law that prohibits the act of anal or oral sex (sodomy). They believed it did not violate any privacy rights.

The constitution does not specify any rights to the people of different sexual orientation. It is up to the states to decide whether homosexual, transsexual, or bisexual marriage is prohibited. Some states such as Iowa, New York, Massachusetts and Vermont allow same sex marriage. Illinois, New Jersey, and Delaware are some states that allow civil union. A civil union is a ceremony celebrating the affirmation of a partnership shared by a same-sex couple or a couple who chooses not to marry. With civil unions they have most of the rights that a married couple would have but are technically not married legally. they do not have protection or responsibilities federal laws provides to married couples. These include exemption from federal inheritance tax, social security survivor's and spousal benefits, and immigration rights associated with marriage. Domestic partnerships are allowed in states such as California, Nevada, and Washington. In a domestic partnership the personal relation between two individuals share a common domestic life but are not married or joined by a civil union. Domestics relations just allow a couple to be together but do not receive benefits or rights like a legally married couple.

Abortion Rights:

In 1973, women gained the right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy or to keep the fetus because of the Roe v. Wade case. Roe's "trimester framework" determined that within the first trimester of a woman's pregnancy it is unconstitutional to violate her privacy rights. During the second trimester, to protect the overall health of a woman the state can put restrictions of how, when, and where the abortion could be performed. While the third and final trimester is in place the fetus becomes viable, able to survive out of the womb, and the state starts to protect the health of the unborn fetus. Therefore prohibiting the abortion of the fetus, unless the life of the mother is in jeopardy. By allowing this process women gained more freedom.

The decision was very controversial, and caused supreme court justices to be chosen just to reverse this by presidents such as Ronald Reagan and H.W. Bush. However, in 1992, the case Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed the Roe v. Wade case. The "trimester framework" was not made legal. Therefore the court permitted each state to make reasonable regulations, without eliminating a woman's right to choose abortion before viability.