Ron Paul's living Constitution...
On tonight's debate Ron Paul saluted the emanations from a penumbra on which Griswold vs. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade hang. Congressman Paul says the right to privacy is constitutional. Wow! Some constitutionalist. Why didn't I know this?
A man claims to be a constitutionalist, and yet he believes this right is Constitutional. Think about it, though: libertarianism has to trump constitutionalism.
But to come back to the real world of words and sentences and meaning...There is no right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution. Read the Constitution and try to find it. The absence of this right is one of many reasons Roe v. Wade is such awful jurisprudence.
The late Joe Sobran exposes this right for what it isn't:
[Supreme Court Justice William O.] Douglas and his colleagues have suggested that the “right of privacy” is a sort of underlying principle of rights that are specified, as if the concept had been struggling to be born in the minds of the Framers but had to await their more articulate successors in order to be delivered.
But the Framers weren’t exactly men who had to grope for words and ideas. They were fully acquainted with the concept of privacy and as a value it is certainly felt in the Constitution. As a value — not as a right.
Like freedom and justice, privacy can be a governing principle. But it is almost nonsense to speak of it as a “right,” at least in a legal sense. “The right to freedom shall not be infringed;” how could such a provision possibly be applied in the real world? …The right to own property is more concrete than the right of privacy, which is particularly hard to define. But the Framers …avoided anything as general as a provision that “the rights of property shall not be infringed.” Instead, they [used specific prohibitions].
It would not be an improvement . . . to say “Aha! What they were trying to express was property rights! Let’s have no limits on property rights. Property rights is what it all means! We know a penumbra when we see one!” But this is more or less how the court derived “the right of privacy” from scattered passages . . . It deduced a general right — arbitrarily … then deduced another specific … from the generality.
- Joe Sobran, "Owning and Belonging," Human Life Review, Winter 1989.