PRIVACY: States Cannot Release Drivers’ Information
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, which bars states from releasing personal information contained in motor vehicle records. Women's groups and abortion-rights proponents, who argue that the law protects abortion clinic workers and women from targeted violence, lauded the ruling. Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal said, "This Supreme Court decision will save the lives of both abortion providers and women targeted by stalkers." The measure came about after several acts of violence against women and reproductive health workers were committed by individuals who received their addresses through their license plate numbers (FMF release, 1/12).
Meanwhile, a "mixed bag" of liberal and conservative New Hampshire state lawmakers are moving to establish privacy as a "fundamental right," Foster's Daily Democrat reports. Arguing that the "state would not be able to sell information provided for drivers licenses or establish a DNA data bank if privacy" is considered a right, the group urged the state House Judiciary Committee Tuesday to move on a proposed constitutional amendment that would "prohibit government from interfering in an individual's private matters." Rep. Gary Gilmore (D), the bill's primary sponsor, said, "We live in a society where we see privacy eroding on a daily basis. I don't believe your privacy nor my privacy should be surrendered unless there is a valid reason for it." Thirteen states already have passed similar measures. But some committee members worried about "unintended consequences," questioning the bill's impact on abortion, drug and same-sex marriage laws. According to Gilmore, other states recognizing the fundamental right to privacy have retained their laws against victimless crimes, including drug use and suicide. As for abortion, bill co-sponsor Sen. Clifton Below (D) said the issue does "not fit easily into this" (Rayno, 1/12).