Does the literal text of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution specifically protect privacy?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The literal text of the Fourth Amendment says the following:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

From this, we can clearly see that there is no right to privacy that is specifically stated in the literal words of the amendment.  Instead, the amendment simply says that people should be "secure" from "unreasonable searches and seizures."  This protection applies to people's bodies, their homes, and their property.

From this (and from other amendments), courts have inferred that there is a right to privacy.  They have argued that we have a right to privacy if we have a right to have our homes and our bodies be secure from being searched without a good reason.

The actual Fourth Amendment does not literally protect people's "privacy."  Instead, it protects their bodies, homes, and property from being searched or seized without good reason.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial