Know Your Rights? Where is the Right to Privacy in the U.S. Constitution?

Lawrence Cappello at Orrick

Tue, Nov 28 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

The right to privacy is a complicated story that touches on the civil rights movement, the war on crime, the women’s movement, and the crusade against communism.

Know Your Rights! Know Your Rights?

Our legal system is not infallible. The law has protected the institution of slavery. It has inhibited equal rights. It has perpetuated ignorance, intolerance, and wrongful imprisonment. Justice, despite the popular cliché, is far from blind.

But the law has also been a powerful ally to the forces of liberty and equality. It cast off the shackles of the slave. It helped pave the way for equal rights. It has protected vulnerable citizens from ignorance, intolerance, and wrongful imprisonment. Most importantly, it keeps us safe from physical harm.

This series offers a practical and accessible primer to the basics (and many contradictions) of US constitutional law.


Nov 21 - Our Right to Privacy

The word privacy doesn’t appear once in the text of the U.S. Constitution. Nevertheless, lawmakers and the Supreme Court have repeatedly insisted that Americans have a constitutional right to privacy because of the spirit behind certain constitutional amendments. It’s a slippery business. Exactly how privacy came to be recognized as a constitutional right is a complicated story that touches on the civil rights movement, the war on crime, the women’s movement, and the crusade against communism.

Privacy is not dead in the United States, but it does seem to be circling the drain. This talk will familiarize participants with the basics of their constitutional right to privacy and examine the key legal cases that eventually led to privacy’s recognition as a constitutional right in the twentieth century.

*People are invited to attend individual sessions even if they have not been a part of the previous class.

Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

Lawrence Cappello is a Professor of Constitutional History at the University of Alabama and the author of None of Your Damn Business: Privacy in the United States from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age. His essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and The Nation. He was recently profiled by The Economist.


Venue: Orrick

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