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Privacy seen as a right, poll shows

Most Americans believe the U.S. Constitution gives them a right to privacy in their personal lives which shields from government interference, among other things, the sex acts of adult homosexuals and a family's decision to end life support for a hopelessly ill relative, according to a survey released Sunday. The notion of a constitutional right to privacy is so firmly entrenched that a majority of those surveyed asserted _ incorrectly _ that the right is written into the Constitution.

While the word "privacy" does not appear in the Bill of Rights or anywhere else in the Constitution, a majority of the Supreme Court has concluded that the "right to liberty" in the 14th Amendment implies a right to privacy in matters such as birth control and abortion.

This conclusion remains a subject of continuing dispute between the court's conservative and liberal factions.

This dispute flares anew with each abortion case to come before the high court. It also figures prominently in the battles over drug testing and the "right to die."

The survey also found that most Americans could not name a member of the Supreme Court.

The survey of 805 adults was conducted for the National Law Journal and LEXIS, the computerized legal research service, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Supreme Court.