Privacy, autonomy, and birth control in America, 1860-1900
Access to birth control became, controversially, protected by the “right to privacy” in 1965; a hundred years before, “procreation was a matter of public concern.” Yet, contradictorily and confusingly, Victorian women — and their bodies — were protected (and limited) by a powerful social division between private and public spheres.
Surveillance and Sodomy in 1918 Sacramento
A “cleanup” of 1918 Sacramento resulted in an intensified “[p]olice surveillance of boardinghouses, brothels, pubs, and gambling houses” and effectively turned these areas — none of which were traditional domestic homes — into “semipublic” spaces.
Women, public health, and the police power
The early twentieth century saw working men left free from government protection in the name of “liberty of contract”; women, on the other hand, received such protection, but at the cost of second-class status.
Affirmative vs. passive privacy in domestic violence and abortion
A “passive” version of the right to privacy — the “right to be let alone” — creates challenges for advocates against domestic violence. A more “active” version provides a viable alternative.
Thinking about evidence and causation in same-sex marriage arguments
A recurring theme in criticisms of allowing same-sex marriage — or, as Obergefell did, in finding that bans violated the fundamental right to marriage — is some variation of the “slippery slope.”
Privacy, liberty, dignity: Kennedy in Obergefell
Kennedy took a fascinating approach to discussing fundamental rights in Obergefell, making an argument that combined substantive due process with equal protection. To do this, he moved away from “privacy,” used in many of the cases he cited, to “dignity” and “liberty.” Using the term “liberty” instead of “privacy” (as in Griswold and Roe v. Wade) when discussing issues of […]
Preserving Jeffersonian ideals through government regulation
In the contentious years of Gilded Age America — 1870-1900 — the general consensus has been than the United States, laissez-faire capitalism and “liberty of contract.” Reality, unsurprisingly, was more complex.
Musings on law, technology, and privacy
I’ve been working on my dissertation for a few months now (it looks at American privacy law over some 150 years, and investigates how technology interacts with that law). Some of that work will emerge here in draft form eventually, but for now I’ve been thinking about the theoretical/critical framework for my work. Much of this framework will be implicit — since I’m writing a dissertation in history — but it will guide me nonetheless. It will develop throughout the writing process, but here are some initial thoughts.
The irony of liberty of contract: normalizing federal intervention
“Liberty of contract” had originally been envisioned as a means of protecting individual rights from government interference, but decisions implementing it ended up justifying federal government intervention.