Griswold v. Connecticut

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Estelle Griswold, executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and Dr. C. Lee Buxton, a physician and professor at Yale, operated a clinic in New Haven, Connecticut, at which they counseled married couples on contraception. They were arrested and convicted under an 1879 state law that made it a crime to counsel couples on this topic.

The Supreme Court overturned their convictions and struck down the law. The Court said that the law violated a zone of privacy that was created by several fundamental constitutional rights, even though it was not explicitly guaranteed. The Court explained: Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.

The reasoning in Griswold has been used by the Supreme Court in several other cases since Griswold, most famously in Roe v. Wade (1973).

 

 Griswold v. Connecticut

 

381 U.S. 479 (1965)

APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF ERRORS OF CONNECTICUT

Syllabus

Appellants, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and its medical director, a licensed physician, were convicted as accessories for giving married persons information and medical advice on how to prevent conception and, following examination, prescribing a contraceptive device or material for the wife's use. A Connecticut statute makes it a crime for any person to use any drug or article to prevent conception. Appellants claimed that the accessory statute, as applied, violated the Fourteenth Amendment. An intermediate appellate court and the State's highest court affirmed the judgment.

Held:

1. Appellants have standing to assert the constitutional rights of the married people. Tileston v. Ullman, 318 U. S. 44, distinguished. P. 381 U. S. 481.

2. The Connecticut statute forbidding use of contraceptives violates the right of marital privacy which is within the penumbra of specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights. Pp. 381 U. S. 481-486.

151 Conn. 544, 200 A.2d 479, reversed.

To read the rest of the opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, go to Nolos US Supreme Court Center.

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