Lawrence v. Texas
|John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner v. Texas|
|Argued March 26, 2003|
Decided June 26, 2003
|Full case name||Lawrence et al. v. Texas|
|Citations||539 U.S. 558 (more)|
|Opinion announcement||Opinion announcement|
|A Texas statute banning homosexual intercourse violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.|
|Majority||Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Stephen Breyer|
|Concurrence||Sandra Day O'Connor|
|Dissent||Clarence Thomas, joined by William H. Rehnquist|
|41 S. W. 3d 349, reversed and remanded|
Lawrence v. Texas, 539 US 558 (2003), is the primary piece of case law which ultimately decriminalized sodomy in the United States. Ruled upon by the United States Supreme Court in 2003, Lawrence v. Texas concerned a Texas law that criminalized consensual, adult homosexual intercourse which was found unconstitutional under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Background of the case[change | change source]
Houston Police were tipped off to a weapons disturbance purportedly from the residence of John Lawrence. Upon entering the apartment, police found Lawrence and Tyron Garner engaging in sexual intercourse. At the time, a statute was in place which banned such homosexual sex acts and further deemed homosexuality a "deviance." Both Lawrence and Garner were arrested and convicted under this statute.
Lawrence filed for certiorari to the Supreme Court which was granted in 2003.
Ruling[change | change source]
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court voted to overturn Lawrence's conviction and declared the Texas anti-sodomy statute unconstitutional. The decision hinged on the right of Lawrence and Garner to engage in private conduct under the Due Process Clause. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion, stated "[Lawrence and Garner's] right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government." The decision to overturn Bowers v. Hardwick was 5-4, with Justice O'Connor (a member of the Bowers majority back in 1986) refusing to overturn Bowers and instead supporting the Lawrence ruling on narrower Equal Protection grounds because the challenged Texas law made male-male sodomy illegal but not male-female sodomy.
Criticism[change | change source]
In a 2004 law review article, U.S. law professors Nelson Lund and John McGinnis criticized Lawrence v. Texas due to its alleged judicial hubris and expressed fears that its extremely broad language could have unexpected consequences in the long(er)-run.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- "Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)". Justia Law. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (2002-12-09). "Unnatural Law". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
- Buchanan, Wyatt (2002-12-03). "Top court to address sodomy / Case of gay Texans, fined for having sex, could affect laws in 13 states". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
- Reinert, Patty; Bureau, Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington (2003-03-24). "Texas sodomy law goes to high court this week". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
- "Lawrence v. Texas". Oyez.
- Greenhouse, Linda (27 June 2003). "THE SUPREME COURT: HOMOSEXUAL RIGHTS; JUSTICES, 6-3, LEGALIZE GAY SEXUAL CONDUCT IN SWEEPING REVERSAL OF COURT'S '86 RULING" – via NYTimes.com.
Further reading[change | change source]
Carpenter, Dale. (2012). Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence V. Texas. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co. Inc.