Discusses the reasons why and the degree to which privacy should be protected

The Right to Privacy

Gays, Lesbians, and the Constitution

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Vincent J. Samar

"[Samar] offers a powerful and plausible defense of the legitimacy of the judicial inference of the constitutional right to privacy...eloquently defends its application to abortion, and persuasively criticizes the Supreme Court for failing to extend the concept to consensual adult homosexual relations."

Where did the right to privacy come from and what does it mean? Grappling with the critical issues involving women and gays that relate to the recent Supreme Court appointment, Vincent J. Samar develops a definition of legal privacy, discusses the reasons why and the degree to which privacy should be protected, and shows the relationship between privacy and personal autonomy. He answers former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s questions about scope, content, and legal justification for a general right to privacy and emphasizes issues involving gays and lesbians, Samar maintains that these privacy issues share a common constitutional-ethical underpinning with issues such as abortion, surrogate motherhood, drug testing, and the right to die.



"Vincent J. Samar, drawing upon the law, philosophy, and political science has made a major scholarly contribution to the consideration of privacy and individual rights."
Michael O. Sawyer, Syracuse University

"[This book] puts the problems of privacy into a broader, deeper philosophical framework of human rights. It is very sophisticated in its knowledge and use of legal materials and in the very insightful way in which it interprets these in the light of philosophical principles. The book should have an impact on legal theorists, philosophers, and the general public."
Alan Gewirth, University of Chicago

"I like the book very much.... It puts forward an interesting concept of privacy, and that concept may influence other scholars and some judges."
Tom Stoddard, Executive Director, Lambda Legal Defines and Education Fund



Introduction: A Word about Politics and Original Intent

Part I: Theory

1. The Objects of Legal Privacy
Analyzing Privacy • Historical Antecedents • Privacy in the Law Today • How Courts Justify Decisions

2. The Concept of Legal Privacy
Problems with the Current Definitions • A Conceptual Methodology • The Definition of Legal Privacy • The Coverage-Protection Distinction

3. A Justification for Legal Privacy
A Normative Methodology • What a Privacy Justification Is • Privacy and Autonomy

Part II: Practice

4. Legal Epistemology and Privacy
Dworkin's Interpretative Theory • Mohr's Privacy Justification • Hixon's Utilitarian Approach to Privacy

5. Applications
Criteria for Dispute Resolutions • The Openly Gay or Lesbian Teacher • Gay and Lesbian Parenting and Marriage • Surrogate Motherhood • Privacy and AIDS • Adult Consensual Sodomy Statutes • The Justification of Abortion • Computer Data Banks and Electronic Funds • Transfer Services • Pornography and Drugs in the Home • Employer Drug and Polygraph Testing • The Right to Die

Epilogue: Autonomy: The Ultimate Question
Selected Bibliography


About the Author(s)

Vincent J. Samar is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University of Chicago and a law professor at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago/Kent College of Law. A practicing attorney, he is an activist in Chicago's gay and lesbian communities.

Subject Categories

General Interest
Philosophy and Ethics
Law and Criminology



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