Griswold v. Connecticut

PETITIONER: Estelle T. Griswold, et al.
RESPONDENT: State of Connecticut
LOCATION: Planned Parenthood Birth Control Clinic

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 381 US 479 (1965)
ARGUED: Mar 29, 1965 / Mar 30, 1965
DECIDED: Jun 07, 1965

Joseph B. Clark - For the Appellees
Thomas I. Emerson - For the Appellants

Facts of the case

Griswold was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Both she and the Medical Director for the League gave information, instruction, and other medical advice to married couples concerning birth control. Griswold and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized the provision of counselling, and other medical treatment, to married persons for purposes of preventing conception.


Does the Constitution protect the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on a couple's ability to be counseled in the use of contraceptives?

Media for Griswold v. Connecticut

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 30, 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 29, 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut

Earl Warren:

Number 496, Estelle T. Griswold, et al., versus Connecticut.

Mr. Emerson.

Thomas I. Emerson:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case involves the validity of the Connecticut anti-contraceptives statutes.

There are two statutes involved, which are printed on page three of our brief.

The first one, which I will refer to as the "use statute," provides that any person who uses any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception is guilty of a crime; and the second statute, the "accessory statute," provides that anyone who assists, abets, counsels, and so on, another to commit any offense may be punished as if he were the principal offender.

There is no dispute concerning the facts of the case, at least so far as I know.

Following the decision of this Court in Poe against Ulmin in 1961, there was opened in New Haven the Planned Parenthood Center, and this was in November of 1961.

The purpose of the Center was to provide information, instruction and medical advice to married persons as to the means of preventing conception, and to educate married persons generally as to such means and methods, that was the finding of the court in this case.

Dr. Buxton, one of the appellants here, was medical director of the Center.

Dr. Buxton is chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale Medical School, and one of the leading authorities in his field.

Mrs. Griswold, the other appellant here, was acting director of the Center.

She is executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and she was in charge of the administration of the Center and its educational program.

The Center functioned in a suite of eight rooms in a building in New Haven.

It had a staff of doctors and nurses, as well as Mrs. Griswold.

The procedure was that, when a married woman came to the Center, she was interviewed, her case history was taken, and various forms of contraception were explained to her.

Mr. Emerson, how was the determination made that she was a married woman?

Thomas I. Emerson:

I do not know, Your Honor, except that, in asking questions and taking the case history, I assume that it was accepted if she said she was married, but I'm not sure what the arrangements for that was.

There is no question in the case, but that the Center functioned only for the purpose of helping married women.

That was what I wanted to ask you?

Thomas I. Emerson:

Yes, there's no question about that.


Thomas I. Emerson:

If an unmarried woman got services, it would be through misrepresentation and mistake.

In the specific case [Voice Overlap]

Thomas I. Emerson:

That's right, Your Honor; that's right, yes.

Well typically [Inaudible]

Thomas I. Emerson:

That's right, yeah, yeah.

Hugo L. Black:

Does the law allow that distinction, discrimination --

Thomas I. Emerson:

The law makes no distinction between married and unmarried women, but our objection to it, essentially, goes only to the application to married women.

Hugo L. Black:

Well, why wouldn't it be a denial of equal protection of the laws to draw such a distinction, if women need that?