Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Ross Gregory

Second Advisor

John T. Houdek

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This paper investigates the historical and legal question of how the Supreme Court developed the constitutional right of privacy from the Civil War Amendments to the Constitution. The emphasis is on tracing the Court's interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment since the Civil War.

Primary sources consulted included the Constitution, statutes, government publications, court opinions, briefs and other parts of case records. Newspapers, periodicals and books were used to trace more recent developments.

The paper traces the Court's use of the legal doctrines of substantive due process, selective incorporation and the new equal protection to first create a right of family privacy, then a right of sexual privacy. It concludes that the Court used the Fourteenth Amendment to "amend" the Constitution by judicial interpretation rather than trying to find the original intent of the drafters of the Constitution or of the Civil War Amendments.

Included in

History Commons