1 minute read

Williamson v. Lee Optical

Impact

It is interesting to note that both Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Roe v. Wade (1973) make mention of Williamson in several places. These two cases, the former involving birth control and the latter abortion, were landmarks not only with regard to personal freedom in sexual matters, but in their "new" application of due process. Williamson, while seemingly striking the final blow against due process in its business application, came at a time when the concept was finding new life in relation to privacy and personal freedom. Starting with Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942), the Court had begun to apply due process to individual rights, and by the time of Griswold, a decade after Williamson, that concept was established. But conservatives were just as wary of the application of due process to personal issues as liberals had been of its uses in favor of business: Justice Black in Griswold warned that due process was "no less dangerous when used to enforce this Court's views about personal rights than those about economic rights." Justice William H. Rehnquist, in his dissent from the Roe v. Wade decision, made a similar point. In the end, Williamson can be seen as a milestone marking the end of one era with regard to due process, and the beginnings of another.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Williamson v. Lee Optical - Significance, A Vision Problem In Oklahoma, Substantive Due Process: From Slaughterhouse To Optician's Shop