Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More Notes on the Right to be Left Alone

The idea that there exists a "right to privacy" that permits the taking of an innocent life is the apex of sophistry -- the absolute nadir of philosophy.  The right to be left alone is inherent in the dignity of the individual. So inherent, it was understood to be so in the times of the Founders and perhaps for that reason there was seen no need to enumerate it. However, in a day which is properly said to have embraced a "Culture of Death" -- that is, a culture which is anti-life -- such inherent dignity can no longer be assumed to be understood, nor to be present in the interpretation of its laws, any more than can be expected the same understanding of the "Creator" from which flow inalienable rights as understood by the Founders.

Jerome F. Smith, in Understanding Runaway Inflation, 1979 Edition, observed:
Any listing of human rights becomes less complete and more prone to error in proportion to how specific it is...The prime right is one's right to life, one's own life and no one else's.  All other rights, and the delineation of what belongs to whom, derive from this beginning.Thus, that which is pro-life is a right and is moral and that which is anti-life is a usurpation and immoral.  All human rights -- and which actions are right (moral) and which are wrong -- can be logically derived from the prime right, the right to life.
The way in which the three traditionally listed rights are logically bound together was well expressed by Justice Sutherland as follows:
The individual has three rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference (from government): the right to life, the right to his liberty, the right to his property.  The three rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right.  To give a man his life, but to deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes life worth living.  To give him his liberty, but to take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is still to leave him a slave.
In 1890 Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren wrote an article for the Harvard Law Review urging the creating of a legal right of privacy.  New technological methods of snooping have made privacy an even more cherished value. Brandeis was on the Supreme Court in 1928 when it decided that police wire-tapping was not a "search" subject to constitutional restrictions, and in a great dissent he reiterated a passage from his 1890 article:
"The makers of the Constitution...sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions, and their sensations.  They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be left alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the most valued by all civilized men."
(Justice Louis D. Brandeis, in Olmstead vs. U.S., 1928)
The Supreme Court since then has adopted Brandeis dissent as the law on wire-tapping and, in general, declared privacy a value respected by the Constitution.
--Jerome F. Smith, Understanding Runaway Inflation, 1979.


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