Facts of the case
William Baird gave away Emko Vaginal Foam to a woman following his Boston University lecture on birth control and over-population. Massachusetts charged Baird with a felony, to distribute contraceptives to unmarried men or women. Under the law, only married couples could obtain contraceptives only registered doctors or pharmacists could provide them. Baird was not an authorized distributor of contraceptives.
Why is the case important?
Appellee was convicted for exhibiting and distributing contraceptive articles under a law that forbid single as opposed to married people from obtaining contraceptives.
Is there a rational ground for the different treatment of married and unmarried persons under the Massachusetts State law?
The dissimilar treatment of similarly situated married and unmarried persons under the Massachusetts law violates the Equal Protection Clause.
First, the deterrence of premarital sex cannot be reasonably regarded as the purpose of the law, because the ban has at best a marginal relating to the proffered objective.
The United States Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order. Baird had standing to assert the rights of unmarried people to access the contraception because he served as an advocate for this third-party right. In so ruling, the Court emphasized that the reason for giving away the foam was to test the statute. Then, the Court held that the state statute violated the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV . There was no rational reason for the different treatment of married and unmarried people. The right of privacy to be free of unwanted intrusions into the fundamental decision of whether to have children was the same for married and unmarried persons alike. The Court rejected Sheriff Eisenstadt’s argument that the distinction was health-related, noting that unmarried persons had as great an interest in avoiding the spread of harmful diseases as did married persons.
- Advocates: Joseph R. Nolan Argued the cause for appellant Joseph D. Tydings Argued the cause for appellee
- Appellant: Eisenstadt
- Appellee: Baird
- DECIDED BY:Burger Court
- Location: –
|Citation:||405 US 438 (1972)|
|Argued:||Nov 17 – 18, 1971|
|Decided:||Mar 22, 1972|