Lawrence Hardwick (1986) as precedent. The Supreme Court

      Lawrence v. Texas 539 U.S. 558 (2003)Case Brief         MelissaCary Introduction to LawProfessorUrmanFebruary1st, 2018Lawrencev. Texas U.S. Supreme Court539 U.

S. 558 (2003) Facts:  InHouston, Texas, police officers entered the residence of John Geddes Lawrencein response to a reported weapons disturbance. Upon entering, the officersdiscovered Mr. Lawrence engaged in a sexual act with Tyron Garner.

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The twoappellants were arrested for violation of the Texas Penal Code §21.06(a) ,which prohibits the engagement of deviate sexual intercourse with an individualof the same sex. The appellants were arrested, held, and eventually charged andconvicted before a Justice of the Peace. Procedural History: Following the initial conviction,the appellants utilized their right to a new trial and challenged the statute in the Harris County Criminal Court as aviolation of their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the FourteenthAmendment and a related provision found in the Texas Constitution.

With Courtrejection of their contentions and their plea of nolo contendere, the case moved to the Court of Appeals for theTexas Fourteenth District. Analyzing the appellants’ claims against the EqualProtection and Due Process of the Fourteenth Amendment, opinion was divided andultimately rejected the arguments naming Bowersv. Hardwick (1986) as precedent. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in 2003. Issues Presented: The Supreme Court considered thefollowing issues when reviewing the case:”1.

Whether Petitioners’ criminal convictions under the Texas “Homosexual Conduct”law, which criminalizes sexual intimacy by same-sex couples, but not identicalbehavior by different-sex  couples-violate the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of laws?””2.WhetherPetitioners’ criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in thehome violate their vital interests in liberty and privacy protected by the DueProcess Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?””3.WhetherBowers v. Hardwick, should be overruled?”Decision: 1. The Court concluded that “the case should be resolved bydetermining whether petitioners were free as adults to engage in the privateconduct in the exercise of their liberty under the Due Process,” so the issueof a possible violation of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment wasnot considered. 2.Yes, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Texas Fourteenth District violated the appellants’ vital interests inliberty and privacy protected by the Due Process Clause of the FourteenthAmendment through their criminal convictions and as such, the convictions were reversed.

3.Yes,the ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick(1986)  was found to be incorrect and wasultimately overturned.

Holding: This case stands for theproposition that all individuals’decisions concerning the intimacies of a physical relationship in the privacyof their homes are a form of liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of theFourteenth Amendment. Reasoning: Reviewing the possible violation ofthe Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as theconstitutionality of Bowers v. Hardwick, thejustices consulted precedents that expanded the rights of sexual conduct and,”reaffirmed the substantive force of the Due Process Clause.” Finding that choices closely tied to personal dignityand autonomy are central to the liberty guaranteedunder the Constitution, they looked tothe worldwide acceptance of homosexuality and the consistent pronouncement thathomosexual adults  have a protected rightto engage in intimate conduct.

Within the United States,  states’ adoption of the Moral Penal Code,which recommended against the criminalprosecution of homosexuals, furthered their belief that sexual intimacies ofall adult citizens are a liberty under the Constitution.Analyzing  Bowersv. Hardwick, the justices criticized the previous Court’s failure toidentify the degree of liberty at risk. Notingthat many states have removed their laws against homosexual sodomy or haveshown a “pattern of nonenforcement with respect to consenting adults in private,”the justices deemed that the historical context on which the prior decisionrelies on is more complex and less substantial in today’s society. Claimingtheir “obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moralcode,” the court determined that the initial decision in  Bowersv. Hardwick was not correct. Precedents:-Griswold v. Connecticut (1965): Theright of citizens to make certain decisions regarding sexual conduct extendsbeyond married individuals  -Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA v.

Casey (1992): Confirmed the substantive force of the liberty protected bythe Due Process Clause-Romer v. Evans (1996): Class-basedlegislation targeting homosexuals is a violation of the Equal Protection ClauseConcurrence: Justice O’Connor sided with themajority on the unconstitutionality of the Texas Penal Act, but felt  the conclusion should have been based on theclear violation of the Equal ProtectionClause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Believing, “moral disapproval cannotlegitimize governmental discrimination,” she argued that a law only penalizingsame-sex couples failed to provide proper equality to all. Recognizing Bowers v. Hardwick as a separate issueinvolving Due Process, she declined to comment on the Court’s  decision to overrule the decision.

Dissent: Justice Scalia, joined by the ChiefJustice and Justice Thomas, argued that homosexual sodomy is not listed as a”fundamental right” under the Due Process Clause. Believing that fundamental rights must be deeply rooted in history and that states have the ability todeprive liberty as long as due process is preserved, he criticized the other Justices for tarnishing the integrity of staredecisis and allowing the “Homosexual agenda” to corrupt the Courts’ views.Justice Thomas agreed with Scalia’s writing, but also expressed his belief that whilethe Texas Penal Act is a “silly,” there is no explicit mention of a right toprivacy in the U.S.

Constitution. Policy Discussion:While focusing on aspecific statute in Texas, the case reflected policy issues regarding equalityand the fundamental rights afforded to those in the LGBTQ community. Thedecision to reverse the verdicts in both the case in question and Bowers v. Hardwick, represent theCourt’s support for protecting theliberty of all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.

It can beargued that Lawrence v. Texas, initiated the legal movement towards fullequality as Massachusetts went on to becomethe first state to legalize gay marriage that same year. Lawrence v. Texas also helped solidifythe role of the Courts as mediators of the law and not implementors of morality. My Views: I agreed with the majority’sdecision to reverse the criminal convictions on the grounds of a violation ofthe Due Proces Clause. I believe that as citizens, we should have the right toprivately conduct matters of intimacy in our own homes without fear of beingcriminalized for them.

In addition, I also feel that Justice O’Connor makes a validpoint when she highlights the unconstitutionality of a law only targetinghomosexual individuals.  I think moralsand social norms are always shifting, and while the Court has a responsibilityto be aware of them, their role is to ensure equality and fundamental rights for all citizens. I was surpised to see 


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