The right to privacy is not part of the Constitution itself, The Bill of Rights and a few other amendments added the right to privacy to the Constitution. James Madison, among others, was concerned about specific privacy points. The First Amendment addresses the privacy of individual beliefs; the Third Amendment protects the privacy of the home against the forced housing of soldiers. Privacy against unreasonable search and seizure is addressed in the Fourth Amendment and protection against self-incrimination comes from the Fifth Amendment, protecting the privacy of personal information. The Ninth Amendment is difficult to define, but seems to be a catchall, covering the rights that were not covered by the other amendments in The Bill of Rights (Linder, 2012).
The 14th Amendment has the clearest meaning of all the amendments pertaining to privacy. It states that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of both the country and the state in which they live. The amendment prohibits the states from creating or enforcing any law that would deprive citizens of life, liberty, or property without due process, as well as guaranteeing that all laws protect every person equally. (Cornell University Law) This addition to the Constitution has been instrumental in several Supreme Court decisions, including the use of birth control by married couples in Connecticut (1965) and the teaching of foreign languages to students in Nebraska (1923). The Fourteenth Amendment has been cited as a protection of privacy in a variety of cases, including abortion, private use of marijuana, police grooming policies, and even whether or not what goes on between homosexuals in the privacy of their own bedroom (Linder, 2012). The 14th Amendment’s provision that no state can deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process or deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws has bearing on the two cases to be reviewed here, New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) and Hustler Magazine, Inc v. Falwell (1988). In both cases, judgments were decided that were not in line with the law and were intended to deprive the defendants of property while denying them due process under the law. The New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) decision maintained the guarantee of freedom of speech and the press using the First Amendment applied through the Fourteenth Amendment to protect a publication from libel or making false statements, unless those statements were made with actual malice. The suit was first tried in an Alabama court, then the state supreme court, and finally in the US Supreme Court where the previous decisions were overturned (Joiner, 2010). It all began in March 1960, when the New York Times ran a full-page advertisement paid for by a civil rights organization, the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King Jr. and the Struggle for Freedom in the South. It was a full-page advertisement that described despicable behavior by the authorities in Alabama against a group of African American students who were peacefully protesting their rights to attend a particular university. The advertisement was ten paragraphs, outlining rights violations, harassment of the students, and asking for donations to help the students and to help defend Martin Luther King Jr. against a perjury charge (Joiner, Encyclopedia of Alabama, 2010). Montgomery’s Commissioner of Public Affairs, L.B. Sullivan, the supervisor of the police and fire departments, took offense to the advertisement and because it mentioned the word “police” and filed a lawsuit against the New York Times and four civil rights leaders whose names were on the advertisement. Sullivan claimed that he was personally libeled, even though the advertisement did not mention him by name (Joiner, Encyclopedia of Alabama, 2010). In the State of Alabama it was required that a public official request a retraction