THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY by Ellen & Caroline Kennedy Alderman


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Human-interest stories of privacy invaded, plus a smattering of legal concepts for the uninitiated. Alderman and Kennedy (In Our Defense, 1991) reprise their bestselling formula to explore that most nebulous of constitutional guarantees, the right to privacy, which, while not explicitly stated in the Constitution, has been judicially determined to be ""implied"" by it. As in their first book, the authors explore the parameters of the law by focusing on real-life dramas: the women strip-searched by the Chicago police for minor parking violations; the high school girl videotaped in the act of sex with her boyfriend; the female animal trainer whose photo appeared in a porno magazine without her permission. Most of the stories here involve women, a fact that the authors don't acknowledge. (Do women run into privacy issues more often? Do they just make better copy?) Some of the incidents we've read about in the newspaper, such as the attorney whose lesbian marriage ceremony led to her being fired from the Georgia attorney general's office, or the case of the divorced Tennessee couple battling over rights to frozen embryos. One story stands out: the case of the hospital struggling to decide whether to perform an emergency cesarean on a dying cancer patient in order to save her 26-week-old fetus. Here the authors tell a wrenching tale and fully explore the competing legal, ethical, and medical issues introduced at the emergency judicial hearing. But too much here is superficial: The authors recite the facts, describe the privacy issues involved, mention competing interests (such as freedom of the press), and cite related cases without comment. Alderman and Kennedy don't seem to have a take, legal or moral, on the fight to privacy, and so ironically, their book offers little more than titillation.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1995
ISBN: 0679744347
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf