Thinking about surveillance and poverty today. From Michele Estrin Gilman‘s “The Class Differential in Privacy Law.”

“John Castiglione argues that dignity is an equally important Fourth Amendment value as privacy. As he points out, under the reasonableness standard’s balancing test, it is almost impossible for an individual’s “abstract, indeterminate” privacy interest to outweigh the state’s concrete interest in law enforcement and social control. Accordingly, he posits that dignity can support the scaffolding of the Fourth Amendment in a way that privacy cannot. He notes, people (such as prisoners) can completely lack privacy but still claim “a legitimate expectation of being treated with dignity.” In philosophical terms, dignity is the “right to be treated as an end, not as a means.” In practical terms, it is the opposite of “unnecessarily degrading, humiliating, or dehumanizing government behavior.” In legal terms, the Supreme Court often uses the concept of dignity to inform constitutional interpretation, so it is recognized as a constitutional commitment even if rarely enforced in the Fourth Amendment context. Castiglione helpfully contrasts privacy, which protects access to the self, with dignity, which “generally concerns a limitation on the manner in which an individual is interacted with.” Under his proposal, government searches and seizures would be unlawful if they degrade or humiliate individuals without a sufficient countervailing law enforcement interest.”