Griswold v. Connecticut Celebrates 50 Years

AUWCL marked the 50-year milestone for landmark case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) by hosting a daylong celebration with two panels focused on both the history and the future of Griswold. Griswold focused on a Connecticut law that forbade the distribution of advice to married couples regarding the use of contraceptives. The U.S. Supreme Court found 7-2 for Griswold holding that “the law violated the ‘right to marital privacy’ and could not be enforced against married people.” Fifty years later the case has been described as being the foundation of modern rights. As Professor Steve Wermiel shared, Griswold “not only establishes the right to privacy but also implied rights.” However, Griswold has also had its share of controversy and with that, the March 30 program explored what its role will be in the next 50 years.

Moderated by Wermiel, the first panel looked at the history, context, and story of Griswold. Professors from the University of Texas at Austin Law School, Yale Law School, and Binghamton University gave unique perspectives into how Griswold has changed the legal landscape. The panelists discussed whether the U.S. Supreme Court undermined the authority for implied rights by situating the right to privacy in the penumbras of other constitutional amendments, whether substantive due process would have been a more solid ground, and whether this has become a moot question over time and through subsequent reliance on due process.          

The second panel focused on the current and future state of constitutional privacy. Moderated by Professor Steve Vladeck, the panel explored how the right to privacy plays a role in different aspects of the law. Paul M. Smith, chair of the appellate and Supreme Court practice, argued that Lawrence v. Texas gave insight into how the right to privacy has affected same sex marriage, while Professor Kylar Broadus shared how the trans community is dealing with the right to privacy or lack thereof. Sarah Lipton-Lubet shared how abortion and contraceptives have worked their way into the right to privacy, and Clark Neily, senior attorney at Institute for Justice, explained how the overall constitutional right to privacy is changing, stating that privacy is fragile, it “carries a tremendous amount of weight.”

We will wait to see how Griswold will help shape the right to privacy in the next 50 years.

View the event webcast.