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Lawrence v. Texas

(2003)

Supreme Court of the United States - 539 U.S. 558

tl;dr:

Texas homosexual sodomy law is unconstitutional. Anything adult, consensual, and private is acceptable.

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ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for Lawrence v. Texas

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Facts & HoldingLawrence v. Texas case brief facts & holding

Facts:A TX statute made it illegal for two same-sex individuals...

Holding:The court must reconsider Bowers v. Hardwick (which held that...

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Lawrence v. Texas | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Justice Kennedy
Level 1
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The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution protects the liberty of homosexual individuals to engage in private sexual conduct as adults under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court found that the Bowers decision erred in framing the issue and relied on historical premises that have been criticized by scholars. The Court recognized that longstanding beliefs condemning homosexual conduct as immoral exist, but its duty is to define the liberty of all, not to impose its own moral beliefs. Recent decisions have weakened the legal precedent set by Bowers, and criticism of Bowers has been substantial and ongoing. The substantive validity of the Texas statute criminalizing private, consensual homosexual conduct must be addressed to advance both the due process right to demand respect for conduct protected by the substantive guarantee of liberty and equality of treatment.

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Opinion (Concurrence), author: Justice O’Connor
Level 1
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The Texas law banning same-sex sodomy is unconstitutional as it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Laws that discriminate against a politically unpopular group are not legitimate state interests and are subject to a more rigorous form of rational basis review. The Texas statute criminalizing sodomy only if it involves same-sex partners violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution as it disproportionately affects individuals with a same-sex sexual orientation. The law stigmatizes all homosexuals as criminals, leading to discrimination in areas such as employment, family issues, and housing. Texas' argument that its sodomy law furthers the legitimate governmental interest of promoting morality fails to satisfy rational basis review under the Equal Protection Clause. Therefore, Texas' sodomy law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

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Dissenting opinion, author: Justice Scalia
Level 1
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The dissenting opinion in a Texas sodomy case criticized the majority's decision to overturn Bowers v. Hardwick, arguing that it lacked a principled legal basis and was inconsistent with their previous support for stare decisis. The dissent suggested that the majority's decision to overrule Bowers while upholding Roe v. Wade was inconsistent and that the Court's distinction between Roe and Bowers based on societal reliance is flawed. The dissent also argued that the overruling of Bowers would cause a massive disruption of the current social order. The dissent disagrees with the Court's decision to revise the standards of stare decisis set forth in Casey, arguing that it exposes Casey's deference to precedent as result-oriented. The Court concluded that the Texas statute fails the rational-basis test and furthers no legitimate state interest that can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual. The Supreme Court has since rejected Roe's holding that regulations of abortion must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest, which implies that the right to abort an unborn child is not a "fundamental right."

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Dissenting opinion, author: Justice Thomas
Level 1
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Justice Thomas, concurring with Justice Scalia's dissent, finds the law in question to be "uncommonly silly" and believes that punishing individuals for engaging in noncommercial consensual conduct based on their sexual preference is not a worthwhile use of law enforcement resources. However, as a member of the Court, he must decide cases in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the United States, and cannot assist the petitioners and others in similar situations. Justice Thomas also agrees with Justice Stewart that there is no general right to privacy in the Constitution.

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