Privacy and the Fourth Amendment

General Description

Students will be able to analyze how the constitutional right of privacy and the definition of search and seizure have evolved over time.

Students will understand that:
  • The U.S. Supreme Court is the supreme authority over the meaning of the U.S. Constitution and can change its interpretation of the Constitution over time.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the right of privacy as an implicit right contained within the Bill of Rights.
  • While a general right of privacy has been recognized since colonial times, the meaning of the right of privacy has changed over time.
  • Technological advancements have caused the Supreme Court to reevaluate the meaning of a search under the Fourth Amendment.
  • Changing interpretations of the Constitution allow it to keep up with the times.

Essential Questions:
  • Why is the Supreme Court permitted to change its interpretation of the U.S. Constitution?
  • What is the difference between an explicit and an implicit legal right?
  • How and why has the meaning of the right of privacy changed over time?
  • Why has the Supreme Court periodically reevaluated the meaning of a search under the Fourth Amendment?
  • How does the Constitution keep up with the times?

Students will know:
  • Important terms regarding the right of privacy and searches under the Fourth Amendment.
  • Key facts about the changing interpretation of the right of privacy and more specifically the Fourth Amendment.
  • Key Supreme Court cases on the right of privacy and more specifically on the Fourth Amendment.

Students will be able to:
  • Recognize, define, and use right of privacy and Fourth Amendment vocabulary in context.
  • Research Supreme Court cases and recent news on the right of privacy and the Fourth Amendment to add depth to their understanding of its development over time.
  • Express their learning orally during class discussions and in writing.
  • Collaborate successfully with their peers to improve and express their learning.

Learning Activities:

In these activities students will explore the meaning of privacy and the development of
the constitutional right of privacy over time.

Materials and Documents

Videos and Media

  • Efrat Cohen explains how social media and digital trails have changed the concept of privacy.

  • Suffolk Law Professor Jessica Silbey discusses the three areas of privacy that are afforded varying degrees of constitutional protection: bodily, spatial, and informational.
  • Retired N.H. Supreme Court Justice James Duggan traces the evolution of the Fourth Amendment definition of "search," and how advances in technology have affected the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.
Keep up the highly engaging and intellectual seminars! The Constitution is of utmost importance!
- Teacher, 2015
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