Poe v. Ullman

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Poe v. Ullman
Court U.S. Supreme Court
Citation 367 U.S. 497 (1961)
Date decided 1961


A doctor wanted to prescribe contraceptives to his patients but there was state law forbidding use, although such law had never been invoked. So, instead of risking prosecution under this statute, the doctor filed an action claiming the law’s unconstitutionality.


Whether the court may decide on the constitutionality of a law when it is unlikely that the plaintiff will be prosecuted for violating the law.




The mere existence of a state penal statute would constitute insufficient grounds to support a federal court’s adjudication of its constitutionality in proceeding brought against the State’s prosecuting officials if real threat of enforcement is wanting.