Case 1: Griswold V Connecticut

Griswold was a physician and a qualified professor who was in charge as a Director in a league campaigning for planned pregnancies for wedded couples. His work together and that of his associates was to inform and advise married couples. His advice was on how to apply preventive modes and measures described to manage unwanted pregnancies. 1 Their services were given freely after doing tests on the wife to determine which preventive measures would best suit her. He and his associates were arrested regarding to their medical activities.

The statutes of Connecticut had been formulated and enforced. One of the statutes at article 54-32 stated that a person found using drugs, an instrument or medicinal articles primarily to prevent conception would be given a fine of not less than $50 and/or be jailed for at least a year.2 In another section of the statute it was stated that if any person was found assisting, giving counsel or commanding another to employ methods to prevent pregnancies, would be viewed and punished as the primary offender. 3

Laws have been enacted to protect people and their sexuality. A couple deserves the right to privacy in order to safeguard their dignity irrespective of their sexual orientation. The constitutional amendments starting from the first amendment to the fourteenth amendment were all formulated so as to provide some shade to the intrusion of an individual's privacy by the laws governing4. In the fourth and fifth amendments, an individual's privacy of life and purity of their homes is protected. Professor Griswold was helping people who had individually come to him seeking help in their private lives. The laws forbidding the help of an outsider to control and prevent 'unwanted pregnancies' were as much interfering with personal interests and an individual's right of privacy.5

Griswold Position

There was no law that restricted manufacturing of contraceptives. Instead, the government formulated statutes that controlled and banned the use of contraceptives. These statutes, claimed Griswold, systematically stepped onto personal privacy as well as marital privacy6. The major controversy was why the government didn't opt to induce measures regulating the manufacturing of contraceptives.

This case was laid amidst several amendments that protect privacies created by the constitution. The case was guided by the acts that forbid the application of contraceptives in prevention of pregnancies. The laws enforced here, Griswold argues, are meant to bring a destructive impact to the couple as it focuses mainly on the use but not the manufacture of the contraceptives.7 infringing laws like these, Griswold held, do not have a base to stand in the presence of the familiar principle. Marriage is a mutual agreement between a man and a woman, that commit to live together for better or for worse, in all difficult aspects of life and in all decisions made.8 That the couple have decided implement birth control measures is their privacy. The political beliefs and government doctrines have no part to play between the couples. It is just like the government is using its officers in checking leftover contraceptives from people's bedrooms so that they may arrest them. The fundamental rights of marital privacy have been protected by the "Concept of Liberty". 9

The concept of liberty supports the right to marital privacy despite that it has not been well discussed and tackled in the constitution. Several bills which were still to be implemented have given shade to the right to marital privacy. Since these were yet to be turned into law, the courts gave their "opinion" concerning such cases. It lied in the moral thoughts and the judgement of the jury to determine the sentencing.

The right to marital privacy is basic. According to Griswold, this right had not yet been given a legal stand in the constitution thus making it vulnerable to infringement. The first eight amendments did not mention explicitly the terms that go contrary to the ninth amendment which stated that the rights retained by other people shall not be violated by the enumeration of certain rights in the constitution. 10 Since the right of marital privacy was not represented in writing in the constitution, Griswold stated, the rights got infringed. Here, the perception and notions of the judges were not supposed to be left to determine the fundamental rights. Instead they were supposed to use the logic of the community and collective opinion of the people to determine to what depth the right is in, to the community. 11    

That this right has no base in the constitution, the right of privacy is held high and is fact cannot be used as a basis for implementing personal opinions on this. The root relations of the family based on their traditions are supposed to be considered basic just as our degree of civilization. These rights not mentioned exactly in the constitution are covered by the ninth amendment which protects such rights from the government's abridgement. Without such an amendment such rights would be insecure und would plainly be lying on the opinion of the general government. Just as the freedom to associate was protected, which is also under the right to privacy, the right to marital privacy had to be enacted.

Case Brief for Griswold V Connecticut


Professor Griswold, also a qualified physician, was arrested and brought before the court on grounds that he gave medical services to married couples on how to check and prevent conception. 12 Several statutes in Connecticut had forbidden these practices. Clauses 53-32 banned any person from using any methods to prevent conception. 13 Any person found guilty was to be fined not less than fifty dollars or get jailed for days between 60 and 365.


They had been arrested in 1961, Griswold and his associates had their case appealed in 1965 and they were set free. It is also in this year that laws protecting the right of marital privacy were enacted.


The issues faced were based on whether there were exact written articles forbidding the use of contraceptives. Another issue was as to whether the existing rules and statutes had infringed the right to marital privacy of the citizens in the land. Were the appellants released after the review of the statutes? Were there any acts to do away with that infringed peoples' privacy? To the first question, yes there were laws governing that but their moral base was in question. Secondly, yes, the right of marital privacy had been infringed by the laws as they went in to check the details on the private sexual actions of a couple. Thirdly, yes. Lastly, yes, there was the establishment and the modification of the ninth amendment which protected the rights to privacy of citizens.14


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It was against the laws to use any methods and measures to prevent conception, Griswold was found guilty since he had been involved in advising and even performing medical tests to couples so as to determine the best preventive methods for them. He and his crew were arrested in 1961 and jailed. Their case was appealed in 1965 and new laws enacted regarding prevention of conception.

Case 2: Meyer V Nebraska

The case between Meyer and the state of Nebraska was handled by Mr. Justice McReynolds.15 The plaintiff, Mr. Meyer, was in court for contravening the laws prohibiting the teaching of a foreign language in the institutions of the state. He had unlawfully taught a child below 10 years old, reading in the German language acting as an instructor in Zion Parochial school.

The following acts formulated in the state of Nebraska governing teaching of foreign languages in it, had been broken by the plaintiff. In section 1 that no individual in any institution should teach any subjects in any other language than English.16 In section 2, other languages apart from English can be taught to a pupil who successfully completes the eighth grade and the evidence for this shown by a certificate of graduation given by the county superintendent of the county to which the pupil lives.17

In section 3, it dictates that any individual who is found to have broken these acts is guilty of misdemeanour and shall be fined not less than $25 but not more than $100 upon conviction.18 Besides this, the convict may face a jail term of less than 30 days for each offence. In section 4, the act shall be enforced after its passage and approval only when an emergency exists. The judicial opinion for this case was that the plaintiff was guilty of teaching the child in the foreign language, German. The bases of these acts go against the right of privacy especially to the natives. Those who had opted to live in the state of Nebraska and had acquired English as their mother tongue had to teach English to their children living in Nebraska, as their first language and not any foreign language.

The reason for such an enactment, which is not only selfish but domineering, was that, English language was supposed to be the first language for children living in Nebraska.  It is the will of a native parent to have their children taught other languages apart from English but the law suppresses this by limiting children from learning new languages.19

It is the right of the children to get exposed to available foreign languages that are to be taught. The judicial opinion, that Meyer had unlawfully taught German to the underage child was legally right but chains the freedom of engaging in language expanse on the basis of unwarranted restrictions. This law is however lenient to the foreigners who are allowed to teach their children in the language of the country they originate from. Despite the fact that, on successful completion of the eighth grade a child is allowed to be taught another language, suppression of the global right to learn is inherent in this law. 20

It is the will of a parent to decide on what kind of education is the best for the child and not solely the government. The manner of carrying out life activities within a family like the freedom of worship, engagement in occupations, bringing up children and making a home is all dependent on the laws and statutes of the respective states. These statutes are held by many states besides Nebraska. Pertaining to the limit by the law to a child's knowledge of English as the primary language, the qualified personnel are devoted to seeing this enforced. They interfere with the peoples' wishes and ways to pursue comfort and happiness.

Personnel teams have been praised for doing a good job to the state and have gotten a scapegoat in the quest for protecting the interests of the state to interfere with the right to family privacy. The plaintiff here was an instructor and all he did was under his occupational tasks. Mr Meyer had the right to teach and so did the parents in terms of deciding on what he should teach their children. In this case, the statute had banned and stepped on their rights by declaring that the pupil was only allowed to learn a foreign language after satisfying the condition of successfully completing the eighth grade which is rarely completed before the age of twelve. Not all foreign languages are restricted here. There are a few exceptions for the languages referred to as ancient languages. These are Hebrew, Latin and Greek. All other languages, including German, French and other foreign languages are encompassed within the ban. 21

In their parochial schools, children have limited time assigned to the study of language. This calls for crucial choice of which specific language should be taught to the children. For them to learn a new language, they must have enough time for language role plays, games and exercises. During enactment of this law, the legislature must have had in mind that native citizens had no option but to limit their early childhood choices of language learning.

Case Brief for Meyer V Nebraska


The plaintiff, Mr Meyer, was charged for unlawfully teaching French to a pupil. It was according to the statutes of the Nebraska state that a child had to successfully complete the eighth grade for them to be taught a foreign language. Mr Meyer was teaching this ten year old pupil, who was a native, before he had completed the eighth grade successfully. It was declared that what Meyer did was intentional and that the law that forbid this was in accordance with the fourteenth amendment. 22


Meyer was tried and convicted and was charged on May 25, 1920. The proceedings took place in a Hamilton County's district court.


The issues that faced the court were whether the statute forbidding the teaching of the foreign language, conflicted with the fourteenth amendment. The second was whether the unlawful activity of the plaintiff, Mr. Meyer, had put the interests of the public at risk. The other r question was as to whether the plaintiff was guilty or not.


The court found that the statute didn't conflict with the fourteenth amendment; the interest of the public was put at risk, according to the laws. The final issue was yet to be decided.


It was forbidden that a native child would be allowed to learn a foreign language before he had successfully completed the eighth grade. The laws had clearly stated in the acts against teaching of foreign languages in the sections 1, 2, 3 and 4. That no person was allowed to teach in a language different from English, that if found guilty, they shall be fined not less than $25 and not more than $100 or face a jail sentence of days less than 30 days for each offence. The court belo was reversed and the cause remanded for later proceedings.

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