Lesson Plan: Landmark Supreme Court Case: Griswold v Connecticut (1965)

The Legal Background of Griswold v. Connecticut

Law professors Helen Alvaré and Rachel Rebouché discussed the landmark Supreme Court Case Griswold v. Connecticut, in which Planned Parenthood challenged an 1879 state law banning the use of birth control. They spoke about the background of the law and the Supreme Court cases preceding the Griswold case.


Griswold v. Connecticut struck down a Connecticut law, applied to married couples, that banned contraceptives and the ability to receive information about the use of contraceptives. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled that the Connecticut law violated the right to privacy. This landmark Supreme Court case expanded the rights found in the Constitution and paved the way for court cases like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges. This lesson has students explore the background of the case, the majority and dissenting opinions and the legacy of Griswold v. Connecticut.


  • STEP 1:

    As a class, view the following videos and engage in class discussion to establish an understanding the background of the case.

    HANDOUT: Griswold v. Connecticut (Google Doc)

  • VIDEO CLIP: The Legal Background of Griswold v. Connecticut (3:02)

    • Explain the Connecticut law that the Griswold v. Connecticut case centered around.
    • How did other previous cases impact the ruling the Griswold case?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Griswold v. Connecticut as a Test Case for Birth Control Laws (4:52)

    • What role did Planned Parenthood play in Griswold v. Connecticut?
    • Why was the clinic set up in Connecticut?
    • What arguments do Dr. Lee Buxton and Estelle Griswold make?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Societal Factors in Griswold v. Connecticut (2:11)

    • What were the arguments for the Connecticut birth control ban?
    • How were these arguments representative of the culture at the time? Birth Control, Abortion, Prosecution, Morality, Contraception,
  • STEP 2:

    View this collection of videos to learn about the Constitutional arguments, ruling and opinions in this case.

  • VIDEO CLIP: Constitutional Arguments in Griswold v. Connecticut (4:30)

    • Explain the Constitutional arguments that Fowler Harper makes?
    • What is the rational basis test?
    • Why was it important for Griswold's argument for the court to interpret the right to privacy as a "fundamental right?"
    • How does this case relate to the balance between individuals' right to privacy and a state's power to make laws that govern health, safety, welfare and morals?
  • VIDEO CLIP: The Decision in Griswold v. Connecticut (4:55)

    • How did the Supreme Court rule in Griswold v. Connecticut?
    • Explain how this case extended the right to privacy.
    • What are other examples of rights that are not explicitly listed in the Constitution?
  • VIDEO CLIP: The Dissenting Opinion and Arguments Against Griswold v. Connecticut (2:54)

    • Explain Justice Black's dissenting opinion in the Griswold v. Connecticut case.
    • What does Ms. Rebouché mean by "without adhering to the text of the Constitution, the court becomes a day-to-day constitutional convention?"
    • What are Judge Robert Bork's objections to the ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Griswold v. Connecticut's Impact on other Supreme Court Cases (3:41)

    • Explain how the expansion of Constitutional rights in Griswold impacted other Supreme Court cases.
    • How were these cases similar?
  • VIDEO CLIP: The Importance of Griswold v. Connecticut (2:30)

    • Explain the importance of Griswold v. Connecticut.
    • How do conservatives and liberals generally view the ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut?

    Comparing Supreme Court Cases- Compare and contrast the Constitutional arguments that are made in Plessy v. Ferguson to those in the following Supreme Court Cases.


    Additional Writing Prompts-

    • How did Griswold v. Connecticut help create the foundation for the Roe v. Wade ruling?

    • How did the ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut reshape judicial interpretation of rights found in the Constitution?

    • Explain how Griswold v. Connecticut impacted Constitutional rights not specifically found in the Constitution?

    • Similar to the right to privacy, what other rights do you think are guaranteed but not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution?

    • Evaluate the ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut. Was this the correct interpretation of Constitutional rights?

Additional Resources


  • 14th Amendment
  • 9th Amendment
  • Abortion
  • Bill Of Rights
  • Birth Control
  • Clinic
  • Comstock Law
  • Consensus
  • Conservative
  • Constitution
  • Contraception
  • Decency
  • Dissent
  • Due Process
  • Feminism
  • Legal Standing
  • Liberal
  • Lochner V. New York
  • Morality
  • Obergefell V. Hodges
  • Originalist
  • Penumbra
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Precedent
  • Prescription
  • Rational Basis Review
  • Right To Privacy
  • Roe V. Wade
  • Socioeconomic
  • Substantive Due Process
  • Supreme Court


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesSupreme Court Cases


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