EISENSTADT v. BAIRD

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
70-17
Petitioner 
Baird
Respondent 
Eisenstadt
Advocates
(Argued the cause for appellant)
(Argued the cause for appellee)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

William Baird gave away Emko Vaginal Foam to a woman following his Boston University lecture on birth control and over-population. Massachusetts charged Baird with a felony, to distribute contraceptives to unmarried men or women. Under the law, only married couples could obtain contraceptives; only registered doctors or pharmacists could provide them. Baird was not an authorized distributor of contraceptives.

Question 

Did the Massachusetts law violate the right to privacy acknowledged in Griswold v. Connecticut and protected from state instrusion by the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Baird, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

In a 6-to-1 decision, the Court struck down the Massachusetts law but not on privacy grounds. The Court held that the law's distinction between single and married individuals failed to satisfy the "rational basis test" of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Married couples were entitled to contraception under the Court's Griswold decision. Withholding that right to single persons without a rational basis proved the fatal flaw. Thus, the Court did not have to rely on Griswold to invalidate the Massachusetts statute. "If the right of privacy means anything, wrote Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. for the majority, "it is 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 to whether to bear or beget a child."

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EISENSTADT v. BAIRD. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 17 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_17>.
EISENSTADT v. BAIRD, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_17 (last visited December 17, 2014).
"EISENSTADT v. BAIRD," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 17, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_17.