Root: Rand Paul affirms right to privacy in NSA Filibuster

Sen. Rand Paul is holding the Senate floor in an extended debate on the issue of the National Security Agency and the threat it poses to the rights of Americans, including the right to privacy. Damon Root @ Reason notes that this pits Sen. Paul against the mainstream position in the Republican Party which denies that the Constitution guarantees a right to privacy.

…as I’ve previously noted, many conservatives believe the Constitution does not protect the right to privacy at all, since the word privacy is mentioned nowhere in the text of the Constitution. As the late conservative legal theorist Robert Bork once put it, there are no individual rights in those areas where “the Constitution has not spoken.”

During his filibuster yesterday, Paul tackled this conservative orthodoxy head on.

“Some conservatives say, well, there is no right to privacy. I don’t see it in the Constitution,” Paul observed. But those conservatives forget the text of the Ninth Amendment, he countered. “The Ninth Amendment says that all the rights aren’t listed, but those that aren’t listed are not to be disparaged. Even our Founding Fathers worried about this.”

Conservative opposition to the right of privacy is largely a response to the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which invoked the Right to Privacy – inherent in the 4th Amendment and the 5th Amendment to the Constitution – to overturn state laws banning abortion. (Roe v Wade did not affect California, which has had legal abortion since Governor Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1967 guaranteeing the right.)

Senator Paul is to be commended for his defense of the privacy rights of Americans, under attack from the National Security Agency and from other government agencies as well. But the willingness of many conservatives to deny constitutional rights in their pursuit of national security, or their desire to enforce their views on issues of personal behavior, means that the conservative movement and the Republican Party cannot be relied on to defend the freedom of Americans.
Full post by Damon Root @

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