Prostitution and The Right to Privacy: A Comparative Analysis of Current Law in the United States and Canada

The constitutional right to privacy is a cornerstone element to both the United States Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but a divergence in interpretation of the right to privacy in the United States and Canada has caused differing approaches toward dealing with prostitution laws in each country. The United States currently imposes a traditional moral standard, criminalizing those who engage in prostitution and rejecting right to privacy arguments. Contrastingly, Canada follows a regulation approach toward dealing with prostitution laws, and a trend toward less state regulation has emerged due to judicial and legislative action accepting constitutional right to privacy arguments. This Note presents a comparative analysis of federal constitutional regulations on prostitution in both the United States and Canada, including how the right to privacy has been used to challenge current prostitution laws and the differing responses of various courts to such challenges in Canada and the United States. Ultimately, this Note argues that the United States should take a similar approach to Canada, recommending that the United States follow international constitutional precedent toward the decriminalization of prostitution and draw a public-versus-private distinction within prostitution laws to effectively extend the constitutional right to privacy to private acts of prostitution.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.