Facts of the case
In 1879, Connecticut passed a law that banned the use of any drug, medical device, or other instrument in furthering contraception. A gynecologist at the Yale School of Medicine, C. Lee Buxton, opened a birth control clinic in New Haven in conjunction with Estelle Griswold, who was the head of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut. They were arrested and convicted of violating the law, and their convictions were affirmed by higher state courts. Their plan was to use the clinic to challenge the constitutionality of the statute under the Fourteenth Amendment before the Supreme Court.
Why is the case important?
Appellants were charged with violating a statute preventing the distribution of advice to married couples regarding the prevention of conception. Appellants claimed that the statute violated the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Does the Constitution provide for a privacy right for married couples?
The First Amendment has a penumbra where privacy is protected from governmental intrusion, which although not expressly included in the Amendment, is necessary to make the express guarantees meaningful. The association of marriage is a privacy right older than the Bill of Rights, and the State’s effort to control marital activities in this case is unnecessarily broad and therefore impinges on protected Constitutional freedoms.
The Court held right of privacy to use birth control measures was found to be a legitimate one. Thus, finding the statute unconstitutional. It held that marriage lies within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees, which, in forbidding the use of contraceptives rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon that relationship. Thus, such a law cannot stand in light of the familiar that a governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms. The very idea of allowing the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.
- Advocates: Thomas I. Emerson For the Appellants Joseph B. Clark For the Appellees
- Appellant: Estelle T. Griswold, et al.
- Appellee: State of Connecticut
- DECIDED BY:Warren Court
- Location: Planned Parenthood Birth Control Clinic
|Citation:||381 US 479 (1965)|
|Argued:||Mar 29 – 30, 1965|
|Decided:||Jun 7, 1965|