Privacy Protections in State Constitutions

5/11/2020

Congress and the states have enacted laws to protect individuals' privacy in various specific areas, such as medical and financial records, and courts have determined a right to privacy in certain areas. State constitutions also have provided for an expanded scope of privacy protections than are provided by federal law.

Constitutions in 11 states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Washington—have explicit provisions relating to a right to privacy. New Hampshire voters approved a new constitutional amendment in the Nov. 2018 election. The privacy protections afforded in some of these states mirror the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution relating to search and seizure or government surveillance, but add more specific references to privacy [shown in italics]. In addition, more general provisions in other states have been interpreted by courts to have established privacy rights or various types. 

Provisions Related to the Right to Privacy

State

Citation

Text

Alaska art. I, § 22

The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed. The legislature shall implement this section.

Arizona art. II, § 8

No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.

California art. I, § 1 All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.
Florida

art. I, § 23 

 

 

art. I§ 12

Right to Privacy
Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public's right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.
Searches and Seizures
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable seaches and seizures, and against the unreasonable interception of private communications by any means, shall not be violated. 

Hawaii

art. I, §§ 6 and 7

Section 6: Right To Privacy 
The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest. The legislature shall take affirmative steps to implement this right.

Section 7: Searches, Seizures and Invasion of Privacy
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches, seizures and invasions of privacy shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized or the communications sought to be intercepted. [Am Const Con 1968 and election Nov 5, 1968; ren and am Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]

Illinois art. I, § 6 Section 6. Searches, Seizures, Privacy and Interceptions
The people shall have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and other possessions against unreasonable searches, seizures, invasions of privacy or interceptions of communications by eavesdropping devices or other means. No warrant shall issue without probable cause, supported by affidavit particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
 
Louisiana art. I, § 5 Every person shall be secure in his person, property, communications, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches, seizures, or invasions of privacy. No warrant shall issue without probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, the persons or things to be seized, and the lawful purpose or reason for the search. Any person adversely affected by a search or seizure conducted in violation of this Section shall have standing to raise its illegality in the appropriate court. 
 
Montana art. II, § 10

The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.

New Hampshire1 art. 2-b Right to Privacy. An individual's right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent.
South Carolina art. I, § 10 The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and unreasonable invasions of privacy shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, the person or thing to be seized, and the information to be obtained. 
 
Washington art. I, § 7

Invasion of Private Affairs or Home Prohibited
No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.

 

1 New Hampshire voters approved a privacy ballot measure in Nov. 2018.

2 In a related area, in  August 2014, Missouri voters approved Amendment 9, making the state the first to provide explicit constitutional (art. I, § 15) protection from unreasonable searches and seizures for electronic communications or data, such as that found on cell phones and other electronic devices.