Privacy and the Supreme Court

By now you’ve no doubt heard of the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, an 81 year old who is the longest serving member of the Court.  Kennedy spent an incredible 30 years on the Supreme Court, and was often a key swing vote in important decisions.  These decisions included controversial topics such as same-sex marriage and abortion.

While obviously nothing has been settled yet, it appears that President Trump will be nominating a decidedly more conservative judge for the nation’s highest court, which will have a big impact not only on cases to be decided in the short term, but in the direction of the country as a whole for years to come.

One of the issues that is becoming increasingly important to the court is privacy rights.  Kennedy has been one to repeatedly vote on the expansion of privacy rights and the First Amendment in the digital age.  What Kennedy often noted though, is that these issues are just getting their start in the courts and that the issues will evolve over time. 

While he voted to expand privacy in many cases, he also penned a dissent in Carpenter v. United States from just a few weeks ago, in which the court ruled that the government needs a warrant to access historical cellular phone GPS records.  Despite this opinion, Kennedy also joined unanimous decisions regarding the government needing a warrant to search phones or use GPS tracking devices on a car.  Other cases, such as one that ruled that a workplace can monitor text messages on a company-issued phones also fell on the side of privacy restrictions.

So while Kennedy had  a variety of views concerning privacy rights, his eventual replacement is likely to differ, potentially conferring more power to the police in their ability to track citizens, and with a likely unformed opinion regarding internet privacy.

We certainly don’t believe that we should be deciding the privacy rights of the American people at Extract, but we do believe that where privacy laws are in place, sensitive data should be as protected as possible.  This is why we’ve created software to automatically identify things like Social Security Numbers, Dates of Birth, and more so they can be automatically removed from public documents.

If you’d like to learn more about how we protect citizens’ privacy, please reach out today.


Chris is a Marketing Manager at Extract with experience in product development, data analysis, and both traditional and digital marketing.  Chris received his bachelor's degree in English from Bucknell University and has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  A passionate marketer, Chris strives to make complex ideas more accessible to those around him in a compelling way.