Right to Privacy, abortion, and paying your taxes?

The connectedness of… a newly selected nominee to the US Supreme Court, the abortion issue… Arizona immigration law… and a Pennsylvania tax amnesty commercial?

Privacy.  PRIVACY.  The RIGHT to PRIVACY.  Do you believe we should have a right to privacy?  Should we expect that our government will allow us to live our lives without surveillance, free from the need to check, to constantly look over our shoulders to see who from the government is watching?

As always the world is full of events occupying our time and driving the news.  And, as is usually the case, each story is presented in isolation.  Rarely does anyone discuss the connectedness of the stories or their implications.  Often, that means little, but occasionally the disconnectedness points to the dissonance in government when agencies pursue their agendas.  Once in a while the opportunity arises from this to view the conflict in “generalizable principles” that drive our government’s behavior.

Yesterday President Obama made a rare selection for the Supreme Court choosing someone who has not sat on the bench. [1.  Don’t worry, he didn’t go so far as to return the Court to the people–he still chose a lawyer.]  In the past few decades concomitant with the selection of a nominee we have heard the hue and cry from both sides of the abortion debate.  So far there has been little discussion on this issue. [2.  I know it’s only been 24 hours, but by political standards, that seems to indicate something–24 hours in these heated political climes is a lifetime]   The Washington Post today suggests today that part of the silence is due to the economic issues of the past few years, but hints that the lack of a record on the part of Elena Kagan will cause many to dig back through what record there is.  This in itself could be cause for silence.

As the Post points out the issue of concern to many is her views on the “right to privacy.”  Interestingly, this is the “right” that has been cited as the underpinnings of a woman’s right to choose.  Also, interestingly, opponents point out the glaring absence of the “right” to privacy in the constitution. [3.  Don’t believe me? Go look.  Dig through the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  It’s not there.  It’s one of those issues that truly distresses “strict constructionists.”]

The Washington Post may be correct–this may well be the sleeper issue of the summer. [4. just how they mean sleeper is still vague–sleeper as in “yawn–no one is paying attention, it’s not interesting” or “staying just below the radar, as if asleep, but ready to awaken with a vengeance.” As young reporters so often say “Only time will tell.”]

So the right to privacy has been a major underpinning of the “pro-choice” movement.  And so far the government has held that there is a “right to privacy.” The question now is–is that a special right, or a general right?  That is, does this “right to privacy exist only for the arguments surrounding and defending abortion, or is it a fundamental right that is applied to everyone in every walk of life, every day?

Think long and hard about this.  What is the heart of the debate concerning immigration in Arizona?  Is it really racism? Or is it about the right to live a private life, without the intrusion of the government into your private life without cause?  After removing the words “Racism” and “racist” from the discussion, the most vocal arguments so far against the new immigration law in Arizona have centered around the stopping of individuals that law enforcement might believe are here illegally based solely on “their perceived ethnic origin.” So the question really is one of privacy.

Now let’s take that next step–the government actually implying that they are using the tools of high-tech espionage to track down citizens–not for terrorism, or murder, or violent crimes, but for failing to pay $4000 in taxes. [5.  Don’t get me wrong–I am not saying we shouldn’t “do our civic duty” and pay our taxes. I am saying that there is a line and in my opinion it was a LONG ways behind where they are now…]  (See the video below)

Of course, we all know that the state of Pennsylvania doesn’t actually use satellite surveillance and listening devices, and gps tracking to monitor their citizens.[6.  For those that are curious–the satellite imagery is real. The houses are real.  And “real people” have had their lives invaded.  The geo-coordinates of “Tom” in the commercial? It’s already been figured out.  Apparently “Tom” lives in New Cumberland PA.]  It’s just a commercial. It’s not meant to REALLY intimidate anyone.  It’s just meant to be cute.

Right?  RIGHT?


2 thoughts on “Right to Privacy, abortion, and paying your taxes?

  1. Very good points. I think what applies in the Constitution is the concept that which is not specifically provided for the Federal Government to manage, and is not specifically denied the States, is up to the States to determine.

    If abortion, immigration, etc., were all determined by each state, then each one can determine their own level of “privacy” for its citizens. One size does not fit all, at least not very easily. What is needed in Montana does not play in New York, where more surveillance may be warranted for terrorism issues. Meanwhile, if Utah and a few other conservative states want to prevent late term abortions, perhaps they should have that ability to do so.

    Otherwise, to pretend that “privacy” is a federal issue would require that we treat it equally in all instances: terrorism, abortion, drugs, immigration, etc. Should the feds tell women they can abort babies, yet cannot smoke pot? How does that figure in “privacy?”

    So it becomes either a federal issue, a state issue, or an individual issue, with the state issue allowing for local adaptation as its society deems necessary.

  2. So does this mean Kagan is going to crack down on the state of PA if elected? Also didn’t it cost them $4k just to find Tom? I’m confused 😉

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