Privacy and the presidency

The United States was founded upon several essential ideologies. One of the most important ones is the right of privacy that is alluded to in the Fourth Amendment. Lately, however, many prominent Americans have been having their privacy stripped from them.

The most relevant privacy issue right now is regarding Hillary Clinton and her email controversy. In the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton has come under fierce scrutiny due to her position and duties at the time of the attacks. As Secretary of State, Clinton was in charge of the State Department, which denied requests for additional security at the diplomatic compound where the attacks occurred. Since then a lengthy trial has ensued, and the entirety of Clinton’s private life has been laid bare before the American people. Now, a simple Google search grants any person complete access to all of Clinton’s private emails. While it is perfectly legal for a person to view these private messages, it is also an invasion of privacy. Clinton is currently at trial for allegedly breaking the law, but has not been convicted of anything. She is still a U.S. citizen, and thus still has rights. Yes, it is true that Clinton has broken rules, perhaps even laws, and an investigation must be done, but there are still many things that a person expects to remain private, and they deserve to have that privacy.

Clinton isn’t the first high-profile person to be deprived of basic rights simply because she was high-profile. Not too long ago, there was huge controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Many Republicans, especially Donald Trump, demanded that Obama release proof he was born in the United States. The president did not have to provide anything for the people, but there was enough pressure that he eventually felt as though he needed to and gave in. Requiring a person to release such a private document is humiliating and unfair.

Surprisingly enough, Donald Trump is in a situation similar to Obama’s and Clinton’s. Many of Trump’s Republican opponents have denounced him for not releasing his tax information. Most presidential candidates since the 60s have released their tax information in an attempt to be completely transparent with voters. That being said, there is no legal obligation to share one’s tax information publicly. Trump does have the right to withhold his tax documents, and therefore the American people should respect his decision to do so.

Any citizen of the United States of America expects some level of privacy, and rightly so. However, some people view that same expectation of privacy from public officials and other people of notoriety as secrecy. This double standard is not only unfair, but also dangerously close to unconstitutional. For Obama to have been required to reveal his birth certificate, the Fourth Amendment says there would have had to have been a warrant involved. Nobody can legally force Trump to release his tax returns because he is an American and has the right of privacy. The same could never be asked of a common individual. American citizens need to understand that high-profile individuals deserve the same level of respect as low-profile citizens, and stop stripping away the privacy that makes America great.

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