Patients and doctors challenge the
constitutionality under the Fourteenth amendment over a
Connecticut statute that prohibits the use of contraceptive
devices and giving of medical advice in the use of such devices.
State Supreme Court
The State Supreme court held that
the statutes were applicable to married couples even under claim
that conception would constitute a serious threat to the help or
life of the female spouse.
Husband and Wife Complaint
Paul and Pauline Poe.
Mrs. Poe had three consecutive
pregnancies in which the infants died due to genetic
Their doctor, Dr. Buxton, said or in
order to prevent further psychological strain the best and
safest medical treatment could be prescribed is advice in
methods or preventing conception,.
The Poes have been unable to obtain
this information for the sole reason that its delivery and use
may or will be claimed by the defendant States Attorney to
constitute offense against Connecticut law.
25 year old house wife that suffered
partial paralysis, speech impairment, and emotional instability.
Dr. Buxton also believes that the
best and safest treatment is contraception.
US Supreme Court
Dr. Buxton seek declaratory judgment [Justice Frankfurter, Chief
Justice, Justice Clark, and Justice Whittaker]
He asks that the Connecticut
statutes be adjudged unconstitutional, as depriving him of
liberty and property without due process.
The appellate seeks to justify the
exercise of our declaratory power by the treath of prosecution.
The mere existence of a state penal
statute would constitute 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
Statutes is not Being Enforced
The fact that Connecticut has
not chosen to press the
enforcement of this statute deprives these
controversies of the immediacy which is an indispensable
condition of constitutional adjudication.
Cannot umpire harmless debates
This Court cannot be
umpire to debates concerning
harmless, empty shadows.
To find it necessary to pass on
these statutes now, in order to protect appellants from the
hazards of prosecution, would be to close our eyes to reality..
DISSENT [Justice Douglas]
We should not term them away and
make flout the law and get arrested to have their constitutional
They are entitled to an answer to