40th Anniversary of Griswold Highlights Threat to Privacy Rights from Future Supreme Court Nominees

Far-Right Justices Reject Constitutional Right to Privacy

Today, forty years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, Americans’ privacy rights are threatened by legal and political efforts to dismantle constitutional protections for privacy in the most intimate decisions facing individuals and families. The Griswold case, which overturned a state ban on the sale of contraceptives to married couples, established a foundation for other rulings protecting the right to privacy, including Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas. The Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v Connecticut on June 7, 1965.

“Most Americans would find it unthinkable that their state government could make it illegal for married couples to use contraceptives,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way Foundation. “But the unthinkable could be at hand if the radical right has its way with American courts. Griswold and other decisions protecting Americans’ privacy rights could be overturned if the Supreme Court is filled with justices who don’t believe the Constitution protects individuals from the prying eyes of government, even in our bedrooms.”

Neas noted that Republican Senator Rick Santorum, the Senate Majority Whip, has said that a constitutional right to privacy “undermine[s] the family” and that “…this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold….”

Neas said PFAWF’s recently updated Courting Disaster makes it clear that Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas – cited by President Bush as his models for future nominees – have been extremely hostile to the Roe and Lawrence decisions, and argue that there is no constitutional right to privacy.

“Americans are growing increasingly wary of the radical right’s bid for absolute power,” said Neas. “We saw it in the bid to eliminate checks and balances in the Senate. We saw it in the efforts by politicians to order federal courts to interfere with wrenching family decisions in the Terry Schiavo case. And when the next vacancy occurs on the U.S. Supreme Court, we will see it in far-right demands for Justices who will eliminate the right to privacy and other legal protections Americans cherish.”

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