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Privacy
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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