The New Constitution: Amendment VI – right to privacy

The New Constitution

Amendment VI

All individuals shall enjoy the right to privacy and freedom from surveillance by governmental, corporate, commercial or other private or public entities.


The question of the Federal government’s advanced spy program has been very much in the news lately, and the American public has been subjected for years to increasingly intrusive and sophisticated “data mining” on the part of our business sector. Worse, there is ample reason to suspect a disturbing level of collusion between government and the private sector, with the result being that far more is known about the private activities of citizens than is appropriate in a free nation.

These things must stop. If citizens choose to disclose this information, that is their right, but their privacy should never be invaded against their will, absent probable cause or consent.


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21 replies »

  1. I agree with the intent but as written it takes out even the ability of surveillance with probable cause and I can’t agree with that as it would remove a vital tool from our police. Criminal organizations would love that but believe me the rest of us would not.

    • There are no rights today that are not subject to reasonable restrictions – libel and defamation with respect to freedom of speech, for example. I suspect that to be the case with respect to Sam’s Bill of Rights as well.

  2. And Rho’s specific concern is addressed in amendment VII, which is the new fifth amendment dealing expressly with criminal matters. The purpose of this is make explicit the right to privacy, which was merely implied in the original BoR.

  3. What is privacy? What exactly are you giving citizens a right to here? With no limits whatsoever?

    I support the values behind this, but the first part of this amendment as written here seems to say exactly nothing from a legal point of view. The part granting a “freedom from surveillance” is more meaningful, but still limited: what constitutes surveillance? What types are covered? Would watching your movements in a public area be prohibited equally to all types of electronic surveillance? Do all CCTV cameras have to come down? What about tracking devices granted via a legal warrant? Unless it is truly your intent to eliminate ALL forms of surveillance and intrusion into “privacy” (which I seriously doubt) then this is far too broad.

    • The Supreme Court has been addressing privacy issues since at least 1923. I do not believe that there is a need to overspecify in this amendment concepts that are relatively well established.

      • Here is where we run into a problem Sam. The Supreme court has also been addressing issues of free speech for years and if they apply that body of decisions to your amendment II it will be fairly well neutered. How are you proposing to address those types of problems?

      • >>The Supreme Court has been addressing privacy issues since at least 1923. I do not believe that there is a need to overspecify in this amendment concepts that are relatively well established.

        Yes, because all within the government and the general population are clearly in agreement on what “privacy” means and how much is desired/deserved, and all federal law is aligned to this standard…! We must live in very different societies.

        I think I’m done here. There’s really no point in my commenting any further on these amendments, I think, when we are so far apart in our understanding of the type of language that is needed to be meaningful and useful in a legal context. You are content with general statements of principle, and I was hoping for actual, defensible, precedent-establishing Constitutional specificity. To keep pointing this out will just annoy you further. But I’ll keep reading along, and I certainly appreciate the impulse and effort behind this work.

    • My response to rushmc is that privacy isn’t a new concept and there is no need to overcomplicate an amendment when concepts are understood. That isn’t the same as saying you can’t create a new amendment because an old amendment overrides it. This is about fixing the old things.

      • But by that logic free speech is a well defined concept as well and with the current definitions applied to your new constitution we would still be right where we already are.

        • So you’re unable to read amendment 1 as altering the current system?

          If your standard is that I have to make up a new definition for every term I use, then we might as well quit now and forever.

  4. Sam,

    I really am not trying to nit pick, I am trying to understand how you propose to address these issues without letting Asshats like Scalia screw us all over once again.

    • This is a constitutional document. No such document in history has been, nor could one ever be, immune in the face of a government that insists black is white. It does work to address some of the problems that has resulted in our system – more of those are on the way, including one that’s a boot to the balls of the lobbying industry. But we should never pretend than any words written down on any sheet of paper can somehow withstand corruption if the people tolerate it.

      • No, but surely what is wanted is words that can serve as a template to be used by people of good will to help constrain those lacking in it, which can’t be achieved by handwaving over the tricky bits and hoping for the best? No two people interpret writing of any complexity in exactly the same way (a fact that a million lawyers count on to earn their spoils). If one doesn’t spell out one’s intent without appealing to dubious claims of “common knowledge” and “generally established policy,” one is like the scientist in the famous Gary Larson cartoon whose entire equation is predicated upon the middle section: “…and then a miracle occurs.”