Lawrence v

Justice John Paul Stevens
Lawrence v. Texas
Julieta Gruszko
Arlington High School Delegation
Historical Supreme Court- RMC 2007
Lawrence’s criminal conviction in the case of Lawrence v. Texas violates both the
equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th amendment. Texas’ “Homosexual
Conduct Law” is unconstitutional on multiple counts, and should be overturned. In
addition, the court’s previous decision in Bowers v. Hardwick should be overturned.
As I held in Bowers v. Hardwick, a majoritarian idea of morality can not be the
sole basis for a constitutional law. Laws of this sort serve only to limit the rights of the
minority, and curtail the liberties of all. Laws such as Texas’ “Homosexual Conduct
Law” are not needed for any citizen’s protection, particularly since the act in question
was committed in a private manner. Instead, these laws violate the recognized
constitutional right to privacy, granted by the 14th amendment, and the right to equal
citizenship under the law also granted by this amendment. Homosexuals, like
heterosexuals, meet the qualifications for full United States citizenship as noted by
Section 1 of the 14th amendment; therefore they are entitled, by this amendment, to equal
protection under the law. The Texas law in question violates this right in a blatant and
unapologetic fashion, and should therefore be overturned.
The law in question is a fundamentally discriminatory one, and one which is
maliciously so because it criminalizes, in homosexuals, an action which is legal in
heterosexual relationships. Sexual preference does not impact an individual’s eligibility
for citizenship, and should therefore not impact their rights as a citizen, according to
equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.
Even in Texas’ laws regarding sodomy were not discriminatory, however, they
would remain unconstitutional as a result of the due process clause of the 14th
amendment. As stated by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. for the majority in Eisenstadt v.
Baird, "it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted
governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision
to whether to bear or beget a child." In today’s society, this right must logically be
extended to questions of an intimate nature.
If privacy can not be insured in these situations of a personal nature, which affect
no one outside of the consenting relationship, where can it be found? The decision by
Lawrence and Garner to engage in sodomy is one which has no affect on any outside of
the relationship, and indeed, need not be known by any but Lawrence and Garner. If any
must be blamed for corrupting family values or morality in Texas, it is the state itself,
which feels that a public discussion is necessary on a topic which is strictly private and
personal. The state has no reason to become involved in this case, as it is protecting none,
and criminalizing an action which harms none.
The state of Texas, by passing the “Homosexual Conduct Law,” acted in violation
of the 9th amendment. While this amendment does not grant rights directly, it acts to do
so in this case. Since sexual rights are not enumerated in the Constitution, these rights,
specifically when combined with the right to privacy implicit in the 14th amendment, are
left to the people.
Bowers v. Hardwick must be overturned by the previously outlined argument
concerning the due process section of the 14th amendment. The decision in Bowers was in
disaccord with the right to privacy established in the 9th and 14th amendments, and set by
many preceding cases including Eisenstadt v. Baird.
Lawrence must be absolved of all charges and the Texas law which allowed for
his prosecution must be overturned. The Texas “Homosexual Conduct Law” acts in
violation of both the due process and equal rights clauses of the 14th amendment, and in
violation of the 9th amendment. In addition, Supreme Court precedence falls in favor of
the Petitioner and his right to privacy in personal matters.