Griswold v. Connecticut

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Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) is a landmark Supreme Court decision in which the Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut statute that forbade the use of birth control drugs or devices and penalized those who advised or dispensed those materials. In a seven-to-two opinion authored by Justice William Orville Douglas, the Court held that the Connecticut statute violated a constitutionally protected right of privacy. While not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, Douglas said that the right to privacy exists within the penumbras of the First, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. In separate concurring opinions, Justice John Marshall Harlan found the right to exist within the meaning of “liberty” as that term is used in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Arthur Goldberg placed particular reliance on the Ninth Amendment, which suggests that the listing of rights in the Bill of Rights may not be exhaustive of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Eight years later, in Roe v. Wade, the Court held that the right of privacy included a woman’s right to abortion.

Robert W. Langran

Last updated: 2006

SEE ALSO: Roe v. Wade