Under a Massachusetts statute, it is a crime to give away “any drug, medicine, instrument or article whatever for the prevention of conception,” with the exception of a registered physician providing such items to married couples for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. William Baird (defendant) was convicted of violating the statute after he exhibited contraceptive articles in the course of delivering a lecture on contraception to a group of students at Boston University, and after he gave a young woman a package of Emko vaginal foam at the close of his address. Baird challenged his convictions in Massachusetts state court against Eisenstadt (plaintiff), a Massachusetts sheriff responsible for enforcing the statute. The trial court partially overturned Baird’s conviction. The court of appeals reversed and remanded. Eisenstadt appealed to the United States Supreme Court.