Opinion | Paul Olson: Please respect my privacy Big Brother
It is 2037 and there have been some changes in Washington. There is a knock at your door. Summit County police officers have a warrant to search your home and computer for evidence of the purchase, possession or use of contraceptives. There is a booming black market in Summit County for illegal contraceptives and abortion medications. Far-fetched? The overturning of Roe v. Wade seemed impossible to most people, yet it has happened. Many people are pleased with the decision, but it may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory as it is likely some of the Supreme Court justices will target other Constitutional rights we each hold dear.
The majority of Supreme Court justices are skeptical of whether there is a Constitutional right to privacy. A citizen’s right to privacy was a key justification for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, as well as decisions in favor of the right to birth control, interracial marriage and same-sex marriage. Even if the word privacy is not explicitly stated in the Constitution I believe the nation’s founders didn’t include the word because only a fool would think that the government could infringe upon this most basic of rights. Isn’t our Summit County home or apartment our castle? Don’t we have the freedom to make decisions about our personal relationships and our own body without the meddling of some busybody bureaucrat?
Many people mistakenly believe the Bill of Rights grants rights, but it is instead a restriction on the government from infringing on the rights that citizens naturally enjoy. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton feared that including a Bill of Rights to the Constitution would lead people to believe that only the enumerated rights belonged to the people. The Ninth Amendment was added to emphasize that citizens still retained all unspecified rights such as privacy.
Eleven state constitutions specifically acknowledge a right to privacy (Colorado does not). At least 120 national constitutions mention a right to privacy and its importance for human dignity and the protection of people from the power of the state. Surely English and American common law is as enlightened as any other tradition in regards to respecting privacy rights. Justice Alito is disregarding world opinion, American tradition and the historical background of our nation’s founding in favor of his own religious and political views by ignoring the right to privacy.
In 1873 Congress passed the Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use. This legislation was better known as the Comstock Act, named after Anthony Comstock, the Puritan who wrote the law to rid the nation of anything he found offensive or obscene. He was appointed as a special agent of the U.S. Postal Service and had broad powers to make sure no lewd literature or information about birth control or abortion was sent through the mail, all done in violation of the privacy rights of citizens. Imagine some zealous clerk at a Summit County post office inspecting the contents of your mail. Or worse, an FBI agent hacking your emails and credit card records searching for purchases of contraceptives or abortion medications that may become illegal.
Many have praised the overturning of Roe v. Wade as a victory for states rights. “States rights” was the rallying cry of Southern states during the Civil Rights Movement to keep the federal government from ending racial segregation and Jim Crow laws. Now states rights is a euphemism for depriving women of their Constitutional right to privacy and control over their bodies. We should all be alarmed when any citizens are being denied their rights as Americans. A government that thinks you have no Constitutional right to privacy will have little regard for any of your other rights.
The right to abortion and privacy will become an important economic factor in coming decades. The Great Migration, which lasted from 1910 until 1970, when 6 million Black people moved out of the South, was the result of oppressed citizens wanting to secure their Constitutional rights and more economic freedom. In future years, women and men are going to tend to avoid living in states that do not respect the right to privacy in favor of enlightened states like Colorado. Consider that many of the people who will move to Colorado in coming years will be in search of liberty instead of scenic vistas.
Colorado residents may feel relieved that they do not live in Florida or Texas where abortion may soon be illegal. But Coloradans won’t be able to escape the anti-abortion crusaders who will monitor the progress of pregnancies and seek to prosecute doctors in other states who aid and abet abortions. There are millions of Comstocks in America who want you to live by their extreme political or religious ideology and have no respect for your beliefs and right to privacy. Do not elect representatives to the government in Colorado or Washington who do not understand our Constitution or you may one day find that “1984” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” are depictions of everyday life in America.
Paul Olson’s column “A Friendly Conservative” publishes biweekly on Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Olson has lived in Breckenridge since 1995. Semiretired, he works at REI in Dillon and enjoys snowboarding, Nordic skiing and hiking. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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