Minors’ Constitutional Right to Informational Privacy, Helen L. Gilbert, University of Chicago Law Review (2007)

Research and Journal Articles

This journal article recommends an alternative way of assessing minors’ informational constitutional privacy rights. While minors do enjoy constitutional protections for privacy, the author argues that their rights are not completely coextensive with those of adults.

The author delineates two forms of constitutional privacy rights: informational privacy and decisional privacy. Informational privacy involves an individual’s interest in avoiding unwanted disclosure. Decisional privacy involves an individual’s interest in making certain important decisions free from government interference. The article focuses on informational privacy. 

The author argues that courts have yet to explicitly address minors’ informational privacy rights, but have recognized minors’ right to decisional privacy and their right to keep these decisions confidential. The article proposes that courts evaluate minors’ informational privacy claims using the same review method applied to adults’ claims and not vary their level of review based on the age of an individual.

It also suggests that when courts balance state interests in disclosure against minors’ interests in confidentiality they should consider the potential for harm from the mere threat of disclosure. The author claims that minors are particularly susceptible to such threats, and are more likely to be deterred from seeking health care if they fear that their personal information, like sexual orientation or HIV status, will not remain confidential.