Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued on Thursday that people have a legal right to privacy that predates the Constitution and comes from God.
“I think some conservatives get this thing wrong. They say, ‘Oh you don’t have a right to privacy because it’s not in the Constitution.’ Well, there’s not a right to private property in the Constitution either,” the libertarian-leaning senator said.
He argued that privacy is an unenumerated right—protected, but not explicitly listed, in the Constitution.
“I would say there is a right to privacy. It precedes the Constitution, it pre-exists, it comes, if you believe in God, from your Creator. It comes in a natural way. It’s yours,” Paul said in a speech on Internet freedom at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Paul said he agrees with the landmark Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, which first declared that the Constitution protects privacy and invalidated a state law banning access to contraceptives.
He also said that the right to privacy extends to personal records, even when they are under the control of a third party, like a website, bank or telecommunications provider.
Paul said that laws like the Patriot Act that give the government access to personal information when it is under the control of a company “erode” the Fourth Amendment.
But Paul argued that people have a right to privacy only from intrusion by the government, not private corporations.
“Some people say, ‘Google has no right to this information.’ Well, you make a contract with Google, and Google has the right to whatever you sign away as far as a contract,” Paul said.