Constitution of the United States

Start Free Trial

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.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team