Triumph of Privacy: Kyllo v. United States (2001) Analyze majority and minority opinions of the case, give your own opinion, and discuss implications for future privacy rights.

Essay by nolejohnCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2005

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Triumph of Privacy

One of the most important additions to the United States Constitution is the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights contains our fundamental civil liberties, which guarantees citizens individual rights against intrusions by both the federal and state government. The perception that human beings have inalienable rights and liberties that cannot be violated is not new. Philosophers like Socrates and Locke all preached about the importance of individual rights. This belief still holds much truth in our society today. However, in an age of rapidly increasing modernization, the advancement of technology has begun to pose threats to our civil liberties.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" (U.S. Constitution). Therefore, one's home is considered sacred personal space and the government cannot enter it without a warrant.

However, new technology employed by police has made it possible to search a home without ever physically going into it. This distinction about the physicality of a search becomes very important when interpreting Constitutional law that was written at a time when its authors couldn't have imagined devices like thermal scanners could ever exist. An applicable Supreme Court case with regards to this dilemma is Kyllo v United States. The main question the Court has to answer is whether the government's use of a thermal imager to explore details of Kyllo's home without actual physical intrusion is constitutional without having first obtained a warrant. The majority decision rightly believes that the warrant less search was unconstitutional because it explored details of Kyllo's home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion. The minority disagrees and counter argues that the search wasn't even a search at all. To...