About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

1996 UCL Jurisprudence Rev. 149 (1996)
Do Politicians and Other Public Figures Have (Moral) Privacy Rights Which Can Be Asserted against the Media

handle is hein.journals/ucljurev3 and id is 161 raw text is: Do politicians have privacy rights which can be asserted against the media? 149
Do politicians and other public figures have (moral)
privacy rights which can be asserted against the media?
Duncan Miller
I. The Scope of the Problem
... the principle of morality, far from representing a complete system of
values, establishes only the equal liberty of each person to define and
pursue his values free from undesired impingements by others'
If, as Charles Fried suggests, a general principle of morality will only provide us
with the requirement of equal liberty, the potential for conflicting rights, claims or interests
between persons is immeasurable.  Dworkin argues that individual rights must be
recognised in any liberal democracy, for otherwise the minority will be the victim of
political decisions based on the strong external preferences of the majority (i.e. those
preferences that people have about what other people should or should not do)2. It is clear
that, whilst the constituency of the majority will change, such preferences do not show
equal respect and concern for all others as only the majority interest at any given time
would be protected.
It is, however, the function of a liberal legal system to make political decisions
which are independent of any particular conception of what gives value to life, or what
elements are involved in the good life These decisions measure and weigh the strengths
of such moral rights both of persons vis-A-vis each other and of individual rights against
community policy.
Privacy has posed particular problems within this context. Not only is the scope
and application of any such right unclear and in some jurisdictions largely unrecognised, but
its legal heritage is undeveloped by comparison with freedom of speech and of the press. It
has therefore often been seen as indefensible against such well established rights. Further,
investigating whether a privacy right is instrumental, derivative, or fundamental, has
brought about divergent and sometimes equally convincing claims as to its status in a map
of rights. Defining the source and scope of a complete and independent right to privacy is
not something that I will attempt in this paper, but instead I will try and come to the most
defensible understanding of privacy in order that it can compete effectively with free
The conflict becomes more acute in the context of public figure privacy rights
versus media rights to free speech, as some quarters of the media continue to subvert their
constitutional function, preferring to print gossip and human interest stories over those
which affect economic, social and moral concerns. I would not seek to completely
Charles Fried, Privacy, 77 Yale Law Journal 475. Wacks, Privacy 1, pp. 57 & 61.
2 Dworkin, Liberalism in S. Hampshire (ed.) Public and Private Morality, pp. 127-136.

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 3,000 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most