Santorum: Court Ruled Wrongly in Griswold v. Connecticut--the Pre-Roe 'Right to Privacy' Decision

January 4, 2012 - 11:56 AM

(CNSNews.com) - Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum reaffirmed on Monday that he believes the Supreme Court decided wrongly in the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut.

Griswold overturned a state law restricting contraceptives on the basis that the law violated a constitutional "right to privacy"--thus setting the stage for the 1973 Roe. v. Wade decision, which declared that abortion was a constitutional right under the same "right to privacy" rubric.

Santorum made his remarks to ABC’s Jake Tapper, who had asked about the candidate’s Senate-run loss in Pennsylvania to Democrat Bob Casey in 2006.

Tapper asked, “Democrats say that one of the reasons you lost that year was because you are, in their view, out of the mainstream and they talk about the Griswold v. Connecticut case--that was an issue that Casey used against you--about whether or not a state has the right to make a law against married couples using contraceptives. Is that something you’re at all concerned about?

“The state has a right to do that,” said Santorum. “I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right. The state has the right to pass whatever statues they have.”

“That is the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court--they are creating rights, and they should be left up to the people to decide,” he added.

In the 1965 Griswold case, the Supreme Court ruled (7-2) that the Constitution, while it does not mention “privacy,” nonetheless grants a “right to marital privacy” and that states therefore cannot restrict the use of contraceptives. The Connecticut law prohibiting contraceptives had been passed in 1879 and was challenged in 1961 by Estelle Griswold, then the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut.

Santorum said that he would not have voted for the law restricting contracptives or for a late Texas law banning same-sex sodomy that was struck down under the court's post-Griswold "right to privacy" doctrine in the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas.

“I said I wouldn’t have voted for that law,” said Santorum.  “I thought that law was an improper law, I wouldn’t have voted for the Texas sodomy law. But that doesn’t mean the state doesn’t have the right to do that--I just didn’t think they should do it.”

He continued:  “You shouldn’t create constitutional rights when states do dumb things. Let the people decide if the states are doing dumb things get rid of the legislature and replace them as opposed to creating constitutional laws that have consequences beyond the specific case that was before them.”

Santorum surged late in the Iowa caucuses, finishing second behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by only 8 votes, each garnering 25 percent of the vote, Tuesday night.