Eisenstadt v. Baird


In 1967 the plaintiff was charged with distributing contraception after a lecture on the topic of contraception.  Under MA law, contraception was only allowed to be distributed by licensed physicians or medical personnel.  Plaintiff was also charged with lecturing on the topic.  The law under which he was convicted for lecturing was overturned by the MA Supreme Court.  However, the MA Supreme Court did not overturn the portion disallowing distribution of contraception.


Whether the MA law against contraception distribution violates the right to privacy established in Griswold and is invalidated by the 14th amendment.


Yes, the law is invalid under the 14th amendment, but not under the right to privacy established in Griswold.  The court applied minimal scrutiny or “rational basis” examination for the MA law.  The court used Griswold’s decision to affirm the right of married couples to have contraception, but did not strike down the law on the basis of Griswold’s right to privacy doctrine.  Because MA could not demonstrate a rational basis for not allowing married couples to have contraception, the court wrote that the law failed to have a rational basis for its procurement.

Justice Brennan seemed to narrow the right to privacy only to matters of procreation:  “If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”

Leave a Reply