Thursday, June 07, 2012

This day in history - June 7, 1965: The U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decision in Griswold v. Connecticut

Estelle Griswold and Dr. C. Lee Buxton
after being arrested.

Griswold v. Connecticut effectively legalized the use of contraception by married couples. That's not a typo, by the way, this happened in 1965.

This was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected the right to privacy in a case that involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court invalidated the law on the grounds that it violated the "right to marital privacy."

The Wiki on this states:

Since Griswold, the Supreme Court has cited the right to privacy in several rulings, most notably in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), where the Court ruled that a woman's choice to have an abortion was protected as a private decision between her and her doctor.


Griswold v. Connecticut involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception." Although the law was passed in 1879, the statute was almost never enforced. Attempts were made to test the constitutionality of the law; however, the challenges had failed on technical grounds.

The case was eventually successfully challenged when Estelle Griswold (Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut) and Dr. C. Lee Buxton (a physician and professor at the Yale School of Medicine) opened a birth control clinic in New Haven, Connecticut, in order to test the contraception law once again. They were arrested, found guilty, and fined, which was enough to provide standing and allow the case to make its way to the Supreme Court where the Connecticut Statute was found to be unconstitutional.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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  • The right to privacy affirmed in this decision was absolutely essential to the whole line of decisions marking the sexual revolution in the law, up to and beyond Roe.

    If this falls, everything falls.

    And conservative jurists have for long held the right to privacy is an illegitimate liberal fiction.

    By Blogger Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, at 12:05 PM  

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