Brief Fact Summary. Appellee was convicted for exhibiting and distributing contraceptive articles under a law that forbid single as opposed to married people from obtaining contraceptives.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Dissimilar treatment between married and unmarried persons is unconstitutional when the dissimilar treatment is unrelated to a rational State objective.
The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is there a rational ground for the different treatment of married and unmarried persons under the Massachusetts State law?
Held. The dissimilar treatment of similarly situated married and unmarried persons under the Massachusetts law violates the Equal Protection Clause.
First, the deterrence of premarital sex cannot be reasonably regarded as the purpose of the law, because the ban has at best a marginal relating to the proffered objective.
Second, if health is the rationale of the law, it is both discriminatory and overbroad.
Third, the right to obtain contraceptives must be the same for married and unmarried individuals.
Dissent. Chief Justice Burger. The law is a justified exercise of the State’s police power because of the hazards of introducing a foreign substance into the human body.
Discussion. The right of privacy is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted government intrusion.