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Eisenstadt v. Baird

    Citation. 405 U.S. 438, 92 S. Ct. 1029, 31 L. Ed. 2d 349, 1972 U.S.

    Brief Fact Summary. The Appellee, Baird (Appellee), was arrested for lecturing on contraception to a group of University students and distributing contraceptive foam to a student after the lecture.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The State may not discriminate between married and unmarried individuals in prohibiting the distribution of contraception.

    Facts. Massachusetts law created three classes of people receiving contraceptive devices and drugs: (1) married persons could receive contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, but only from doctors or druggists on prescription; (2) single people may not receive contraceptives from anyone to prevent pregnancy and (3) anyone may receive contraceptives from anyone to prevent the spread of disease.

    Issue. May the state discriminate between married and unmarried couples in prohibiting birth control methods?

    Held. No. Appeals Court ruling affirmed.
    Justice William Brennan (J. Brennan) notes that “if the right to privacy means anything, it means the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”

    Dissent. Chief Justice William Burger (J. Berger) argues that there is nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution) that suggests birth control must be made available on the open market.

    Discussion. A right to privacy is again recognized in Eisenstadt. Here, the right to contraception is extended to unmarried individuals, as well.


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