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The Right to Privacy in American History

An excellent review of privacy in American history.

The Right to Privacy in American History

A Minor Clerical Error in DC. vs. Heller

I've finished preparing my presentation slides for PhreakNIC regarding the history and current interpretation of the Second Amendment. I think I've provided a faithful review of the history of the Amendment that explains the reasons for the controversy that surrounds it. In doing so, I found a minor error in the Opinion of the Supreme Court in D.C. vs. Heller - the recent landmark case recognizing an individual right to keep arms for self defense in the home. The Opinion makes reference on page 41 to two rulings of the Tennessee Supreme Court, Aymette v. State, decided in 1840, and Andrews v. State which the Opinion dates "21 years later." In fact, Andrews v. State was decided in 1871 - 31 years later.

I don't think that this error has any significance other than proof that I've been staring at this material too long. In 1861, Tennessee was in the process of withdrawing from the Union, which would have been very disruptive to the adjudication of Constitutional issues! In any event, I'm looking forward to speaking about this subject at PhreakNIC, and I hope that I can shed some light on it for everyone there.

Wiretapping before the Wires: The Post Office and the Birth of Communications Privacy by Anuj C. Desai :: SSRN

I explain the history of postal surveillance and show that the principle of communications privacy derives not from the Fourth Amendment or even from the Constitution at all. Rather, it comes from early postal policymakers who put that principle into postal ordinances and statutes in the late eighteenth century. Over time, the principle of communications privacy became embedded into the postal network by both law and custom. It was only then that the Court incorporated it into the Fourth Amendment in the 1878 case Ex parte Jackson, which in turn served as one of the bases of Justice Brandeis's Olmstead dissent. So, if today we see the principle of communications privacy as fundamental to the Fourth Amendment, we have postal policymakers to thank, for it was through the post office, not the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, that early Americans first established that principle.

Wiretapping before the Wires: The Post Office and the Birth of Communications Privacy by Anuj C. Desai :: SSRN

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