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Bezanson, Randall P. The Right to Privacy Revisited: Privacy, News, and Social Change, 1890-1990, 80 Cal. L. Rev. 1133 (1992)
Communication Law and Policy  (IF),  Pub Date : 2020-07-02, DOI: 10.1080/10811680.2020.1766320
Erin K. Coyle

Scholarship often traces American privacy law to Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis’s influential 1890 Harvard Law Review article. The Warren and Brandeis article argues judges ought to protect a person’s thoughts, sensations and emotions against invasions by the press, photographers, distributors of portraits, and publishers of gossip. Warren and Brandeis connected the right of privacy to personal dignity and what Judge Thomas M. Cooley identified as a “right to be let alone.” Just over a century later, Professor Randall P. Bezanson revisited their article. He explained Warren and Brandeis’s conception of privacy was a response to nineteenth century social conditions and cultural values that were distinct from twentieth century social conditions and cultural values. Bezanson’s article demonstrates a legal concept can be better understood by exploring social and cultural history to analyze what a particular law was intended to protect. While some legal scholarship explores legislative histories of statutory laws and case law cited in judicial opinions, legal scholarship also may consider other factors that influenced calls