Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Court Cases Over the Years

The Right to Privacy

“The right to be left alone,” U.S. Supreme Court Louis Brandeis noted more than 100 years ago, is a basic human right, and the ACLU has vigorously fought for that right, as the cases below demonstrate:

1977: Michaelson v. New England Telephone Company

Successful intervention in opposition to a suit brought by the Attorney General to force the phone company to give assistance in court-ordered wiretaps.

1980: Santos v. Brown

Representation of person convicted of violating state sodomy law prohibiting “the abominable and detestable crime against nature”; the conviction was reversed on other grounds.

1983: Harris v. Moran

Favorably settled federal court suit challenging prison strip-searching of female visitors on the basis of unsubstantiated tips.

1984: Planned Parenthood v. Board of Medical Review

Successful challenge to state law requiring husbands to be notified before a woman could have an abortion.

1986: Deleiris v. Scott

Successful federal challenge to Health Department policy denying birth certificates to parents who refused to provide personal information on a hospital birth worksheet.

1987: Field v. Field

“Friend of the court” brief filed in state Supreme Court against Family Court custody restrictions on a mother solely because of her sexual orientation; the case was settled.

1988: Parillo v. Parillo

R.I. Supreme Court appeal filed on behalf of a mother barred by Family Court from allowing her boyfriend to stay overnight when her children were present.

1989: Virella v. Scott

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging Health Department policy denying married but separated women the right to give their children the surname of their choice.

1989: Pimental v. Department of Transportation

“Friend of the court” brief in the state Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of drunk driving roadblocks; the court ruled them unconstitutional.

1993: Vote Choice v. DiStefano

Federal lawsuit successfully challenging a state law requiring that the names of people making small donations to controversial PAC’s be made public.

1994: Ducharme v. State of Rhode Island, Division of State Police

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging the strip search of a person arrested for disorderly conduct.

1998: Liu v. Striuli

“Friend of the court” brief filed in this sexual harassment case, successfully opposing a ruling that the defendant waived any doctor-patient privilege in his psychiatric records by discussing his treatment with the plaintiff.

2001: Reitsma v. Vinagro

Challenge to an injunction sought by the DEM to search a defendant’s property at any time without a warrant; favorable court decision issued.

2002: Lanoue v. City of Woonsocket

Federal lawsuit challenging, on Fourth Amendment grounds, a police department’s actions in strip-searching the plaintiff and leaving her naked in a holding cell for over five hours after she was arrested for “driving under the influence.”

2007: In re: Complaint Against Verizon and AT&T

This administrative complaint sought an investigation as to whether telephone companies improperly shared customer information with the National Security Agency.

2009: R.I. ACLU v. CVS Caremark Corporation

This successful administrative complaint challenged a company’s on-line job application form that asked numerous intrusive personal questions.

2010: Simone v. Town of Johnston

Favorably-settled federal lawsuit challenging a police department’s disclosure of a resident’s private driver’s license information to a town council member.

2010: Ramos v. City of Pawtucket

Favorably settled lawsuit against city officials for violating a state law that prohibits random drug testing in the workplace.

See Other Highlighted Privacy Cases:

Return to: Recent Privacy Court Cases

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