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Justice Douglas and Privacy Rights - Essay Example

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Justice Douglas and Privacy Rights

Hence, the doctrine of privacy rights was born.
There are two fundamental aspects of Justice Douglas' statements which should be addressed here. The first is Incrementalism; the idea that privacy is not taken away in a day by one major act, but rather eroded over time. For Justice Douglas, the government may "intrude into the secret regions" of an individual's life through its actions which, almost imperceptibly, use the massive power of the federal system to weaken the standing of an individual. Secondly, Justice Douglas articulates the "Big Brother" principle; in the name of protecting us or advancing us, the government requires more access to our lives. In other words, we have a benevolent overseer who will, if allowed, take care of us; but only at the cost of our individual freedoms.
At the end of the day, Justice Douglas may be guilty of some excesses, but he has a good point. Privacy is important to individuals who live in a free society, and that right should be protected. While extremists exist on both sides that are willing to take the issue beyond its rational boundaries, the notion that there are extra-constitutional rights, of which privacy is one, is not heresy. Reasonably applied, it's a good idea.













Pro-Con Debate on the Patriot Act

The Patriot Act is a controversial set of laws which, in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, circumscribe certain rights heretofore felt to be inviolate by many. Others, perceiving a need to protect society from an insidious enemy, are perfectly willing to trade personal privacy rights for safety. Here are six examples, three on each side, of the debate.

Pro
1984 in 2003: Fears about the Patriot Act are Misguided

In his comments regarding the position of civil liberties organizations in regard to the Patriot Act, Ramesh Ponnuru points out that much of the criticism of specific governmental behaviors existed well before the Patriot Act and that civil libertarians are overreacting. He notes, for example, that the roving wiretap-authorization for the government to tap any phone line which a particular suspect uses rather than getting a court order for each one-has been around since 1986. Yet it has only been since the enacting of the Patriot Act that there have been complaints. His conclusion is that it isn't "1984 in 2003."

Keeping America out of Harm's Way: From a National Health-Surveillance Network to Better Whistle-Blower Protection, Security Experts Provide Their Commonsense Ideas for Improving Homeland Security

In his article regarding security measures, Sam Macdonald notes the fact that the Patriot Act is controversial, but points out that even when Americans are united in a war against terrorism, there is disagreement on how to address the issues. The overriding thrust of his article is that many of the nation's most prominent experts on security feel that our vital structures are still vulnerable to attack. He points out that conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation consider the government's need of information to be paramount. Reading this article causes me to consider the balance between my individual freedoms ...Show more
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Summary

Justice Douglas, in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), began firmly framing a constitutional right to privacy where one had previously existed only in shadow. His recipe was a various mix of Amendments within the Bill of Rights although how, exactly, the right to freedom of speech and assembly (First Amendment) interacts with the right to not be forced to quarter soldiers during peacetime (Third Amendment) never really coalesced into a solid doctrine for some…
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