Thursday, November 14, 2013

Poe v. Ullman case brief

Poe v. Ullman case brief summary
367 U.S. 497 (1961)

Plaintiffs, doctor and patients, sought review of the order from the Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut, which ruled that Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53-32, 54-196 (1958), prohibiting the use of contraceptive devices, was applicable to married couples.

The patients and doctor challenged the constitutionality under U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV, the state statute prohibiting the use of contraceptive devices and the giving of medical advice in the use of such devices, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53-32, 54-196 (1958). The state supreme court held that the statutes were applicable to married couples even under a claim that conception would constitute a serious threat to the health or life of the female spouse.


  • On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the mere existence of a state penal statute constituted insufficient grounds to support a federal court's adjudication of its constitutionality in proceedings brought against the state's prosecuting officials if real threat of enforcement was wanting. 
  • Prosecutors in the state had not prosecuted anyone for violation of the statute, and the patients and the doctor were not in any danger of immediately sustaining some direct injury as the result of its enforcement. 
  • The Court dismissed the action.

The court dismissed the plaintiffs', patients and doctor, claim challenging the constitutionality of statutes prohibiting the use of contraceptive devices.

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