Literature Study GuidesGriswold V Connecticut

Griswold v. Connecticut | Study Guide

United States Supreme Court

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United States Supreme Court

Year Decided



Primary Source


U.S. Supreme Court Case

At a Glance

  • In 1879 the Connecticut legislature passed a law that prohibited birth control. Methods of contraception at that time included spermicides, condoms, and diaphragms. The law also allowed police to arrest, fine, and imprison anyone distributing information about contraception.
  • This rarely enforced Connecticut state law led to the arrest and conviction in 1961 of two clinic directors who were advising married couples on contraceptives. The directors appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • In 1965 a court majority overruled the Connecticut law and ruled that the Constitution protects marital privacy, including contraception.
  • Dissenting justices felt that the law was unwise but not unconstitutional. They criticized the court for letting personal beliefs affect the verdict.
  • Many Americans supported the decision, agreeing that everyone deserves access to contraceptives and medical advice about birth control use. A minority opposed the decision on religious grounds.
  • This landmark case led to more legislation increasing access to family planning for both married and unmarried individuals. The court again advocated for privacy in reproductive choices in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case legalizing time-limited abortion nationwide.


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