Tapping the Scales of Justice - A Dose of Connecticut Legal History

The Right to Privacy

PRIVATE!In 1961, Estelle Griswold and C. Lee Buxton, directors of a Planned Parenthood Center, operated a clinic in New Haven to provide contraceptive counseling and materials to married couples. They were arrested, as accessories, for violating a state statute which made it a crime to use devices or materials to prevent conception. After a trial, they were found guilty as charged.

On appeal, both the Appellate Division of the Circuit Court and the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of conviction. The Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that the conviction of Griswold and Buxton was not an invasion of constitutional rights. Griswold and Buxton then took their case to the United States Supreme Court.

In 1965, the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, ruling that a married couple has a right of privacy that cannot be infringed upon by a state law making it a crime to use contraceptives. While the right of privacy is not specifically guaranteed by the Constitution, the Griswold Court reasoned that it emanates from certain guarantees in the Bill of Rights. Griswold then paved the way for the Supreme Court's historic ruling in the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court went on to hold that the right of privacy encompasses a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. Griswold v. Connecticut served as an important precedent in the Roe v. Wade decision.

See: State v. Griswold, 151 Conn. 544 (1964) and Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)

Doses of Connecticut Legal History