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Let Freedom Ring: Genetic Testing Unconstitutional

May 12, 1998

Health privacy advocates celebrate! The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that subjecting employees to genetic testing without their consent violates their constitutional right to privacy. (Norman-Bloodsaw v. Lawrence Berkley Laboratory, CA 9, No. 96-16526, 2/3/98)

According to the Council for Responsible Genetics, this case represents the first U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on the issue of genetic privacy in the workplace. The Council notes that the ruling sends the case back to the district court level, where it will go to trial.

Just Short of The Supreme Court

"The 9th Circuit Court is one of 12 regional federal courts that hear appeals from trial courts and provide a level of judicial review just short of the U.S. Supreme Court. Its decisions are not applicable to jurisdictions beyond the nine states it covers," explains Rick Weiss in the Washington Post.

Weiss also points out Judge Stephen Reinhardt's opinion, which we find profound on this historic case: "One can think of few subject areas more personal and more likely to implicate privacy interests than that of one's health or genetic make-up."

This article appeared in the March/April 1998 issue of Health Freedom Watch.