WASHINGTON -- The landmark 1965 Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which prevents states from criminalizing contraception, was "written on weak grounds," Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told a group of high school students last week.
Prior to 1965, Connecticut law stated that married women who used "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purposes of preventing conception" could be fined and imprisoned. The Griswold decision struck down that law, citing a constitutional "right to marital privacy," and prevented other states from banning contraception.
King told students that he disagrees with the Supreme Court's ruling on that case because he believes the "right to privacy" is actually not protected in the Constitution.
"So the Supreme Court found that there is a right to privacy in the shadows of the Constitution that no one had discovered before that had sat on the bench, so they created this contrived legal argument that produced legalization of abortion on demand, without restraint," King told the students at Ames High School on Wednesday.
He added, "I think we need to have our Supreme Court decisions on solid grounds, and I think it's written on weak grounds, and I would be willing to say that four of the Supreme Court justices agree with me on that case."
Griswold v. Connecticut is important for providing legal precedent for a number of later Supreme Court decisions, including the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that prevented states from banning abortion and the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that invalidated state laws banning sodomy. If the Griswold decision were overturned, states would once again have the ability to ban birth control, and other court decisions would be on less firm ground.
King did not elaborate Wednesday on whether he believes states should be able to ban birth control. "I've never taken a position that they couldn't -- the states couldn't -- that the states could or could not ban contraceptives," he said. But if a state did want to ban contraceptives, King says he would advise lawmakers not to bother.
"I would say to them take a look at Griswold ... and you'll learn that the Supreme Court has prohibited you from banning contraceptives," he said. "So I would just drop that issue and move on to something you can do that's constructive."
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