Skip to content

A Question For All Presidential Candidates, Where do you stand on privacy?

During the GOP campaign for President an issue came up concerning candidate Rick Santorum.  He said:

One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.” And also, “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.

Santorum then said that he believes that states have the legal right to ban contraception under the US Constitution.  This is the much bigger issue, even more staggering is the man’s personal belief on condoms and birth control pills.  During last week’s debate on ABC, George Stephanopoulos tried to push Santorum and Mitt Romney on the issue. Both candidates played off the question by saying that it doesn’t matter because no state right now is going to try and ban contraception.  In their answers though they both said that the US Constitution does not contain a right to privacy.

This leads to the bigger question, where do candidates stand on the all important right to privacy?  The Constitution contains many parts discussing privacy, but never uses the words “right to privacy” which many conservatives see as a loophole.  The first amendment guarantees us  the right to our beliefs, third amendment guarantees us privacy in our home, the fourth protects our person and belongings, the ninth gives us a more general protection of privacy, and the fourteenth has a liberty clause in it that says “No State shall… deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”.

This whole argument reminds me of a scene in one of my favorite tv shows, The West Wing

Back on November 24, 1999,  an episode of “The West Wing” in which President Bartlet chooses a supreme court nominee. When one of the candidates says there is no right to privacy in the Constitution, an aide played by Rob Lowe says, “In 1787 there was a sizable bloc of delegates who were initially opposed to the bill of rights. This is what a member of the Georgia delegation had to say by way of opposition: ‘If we list a set of rights, some fools in the future are going to claim the people are entitled only to those rights enumerated and no others’.” The judge candidate then demands, “Were you just calling me a fool?” Lowe’s character replies, “I wasn’t calling you a fool, sir, the brand new state of Georgia was.”

The right to privacy has been cited as law by the Supreme Court Of the United States.  It has been the basis for decisions such as Lawrence v. Texas.  The state of Texas tried to prosecute people after they made sodomy illegal.  The Supreme Court cited a right to privacy as one of the many reasons this law was illegal.  In fact going back to the original contraception issue, in 1965 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the state of Connecticut could not ban contraception based on married couples right to privacy.

We are now in the year 2012 and there are a group of men running for president who don’t believe that we have a right to privacy.  In fact every major candidate has said that the Constitution does not have any such guarantee.  This is their argument for overturning Roe. v. Wade and for giving states the right to ban contraception.  Even Ron Paul who claims to be Mr. Liberty is a fraud on real issues of liberty.

There is only one candidate running who has uttered the words that the United States Constitution guarantees us a right to privacy, that candidate is Barack Obama.