Hugo Black: Dissent in Griswold v. Connecticut

(1965)

In the landmark case of Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case involved an 1879 Connecticut law that essentially prohibited the use of contraceptives. In 1961, Estelle Griswold and C. Lee Buxton opened a birth control clinic in New Haven as a way to test the law. Soon after, they were arrested, tried, and convicted under the nineteenth-century statute. Griswold appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment countered the Connecticut statute against the use of contraceptives. In a vote of 7–2, the Supreme Court invalidated the law on the ground that it violated the right to privacy. While the Bill of Rights does not explicitly cite a right to “privacy,” Justice William O. Douglas, writing for the majority, found the right to privacy to be implicit in the constitutional protections afforded by the Bill of Rights. Although he found the Connecticut law offensive, in his dissent,...

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Hugo Black (Library of Congress)

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