Doctrine of Marital Privacy Law and Legal Definition

Doctrine of Marital Privacy refers to a principle that limits governmental intrusion into private family matters, such as those involving sexual relations between married persons. This was first recognized in the case Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (U.S. 1965), where the Court struck down a state law prohibiting the possession, sale, and distribution of contraceptives to married couples. The court held that “the marriage relationship lies within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-32 (rev. 1958), which, in forbidding the use of contraceptives rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon that relationship. Such a law cannot stand in light of the familiar that a governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms. The very idea of allowing the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.”

Earlier this doctrine deterred state intervention into matters involving domestic violence. Today, with the trend toward individual privacy rights, the doctrine does not discourage governmental protection from domestic violence.