Griswold v. Connecticut

Facts

In 1879 the state of Connecticut passed a law that prohibited “any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception.”  The Plaintiff in 1965 was the director of Planned Parenthood in the state and challenged the law on constitutional grounds when they were convicted of instructing and advising married couples to use birth control.  The law had previously rarely been enforced and was all but ignored.  Plaintiff was convicted of a portion of this law which made it illegal to counsel married couples regarding contraception.

Issue

Whether there is a constitutional right to privacy; and if so, under what article does it exist?

Holding/Analysis

Yes, there is a right to privacy that exists in the aggregation of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 9th and 14th  amendments.  When viewed collectively, these constitutional rights create a “zone” of constitutional authority that demonstrates the right to individual privacy is inherent.  The state cannot violate this right because it is a right that predates the constitution itself.  Moreover, the first amendment itself has a “penumbra” or an implication that privacy is protected in particular.

The court also held that the law is not narrowly tailored to meet its stated goals or its “legitimate governmental interest.”

Dissent

Stewart and Black believed that to reach for a right to privacy where it does not explicitly exist is a dangerous overreach of judicial power.  If the citizens of the state wanted to overturn the law they could do so through their democratically elected state officials.

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