Constitutional Law the Case of the 'Lawrence Term Paper

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Constitutional Law

The case of the 'Lawrence vs. Texas' of June 26, 2003, was in a nutshell about privacy rights and 'equal protection' under the law, and whether 'sodomy' can come under the protection of the U.S. Constitution.

Who were the Petitioner(s) and the Respondent(s)? The case deals with two gay men, or in other words, homosexual men, that is, men who prefer partners of the same sex, who happened to be indulging in sex in a home in Houston, Texas, in the year 1998, from where they were arrested. The house belonged to the petitioner, John G. Lawrence, and a neighbor reported to the police that there was a 'weapons disturbance' happening at the house, when in fact, John G. Lawrence and Tyron Garner, another man, were having sex within the privacy of the home. Both the men were arrested and taken over to jail, where they were kept overnight, and fined $200 each for having violated the 'Homosexual Conduct Law' of the state of Texas. The neighbor was also convicted later on for having filed a false police report. Now, as a result of this particular case, all 'sodomy' laws in the United States of America are considered to be both unconstitutional as well as unenforceable when they are applied to non-commercial and consenting adults when they are in the privacy of their own homes or elsewhere that is equally private. (Lawrence & Garner v. State of Texas: Sodomy Laws)

The Petitioners were John Geddes Lawrence, a Medical Technologist and the street stand vendor Tyron Garner. The respondents were the U.S. court of Appeals, and eventually, the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. (Lawrence Vs. Texas) Lawrence remarked that he felt that the police entering his private quarters felt like the 'Gestapo coming in', and Garner stated that he did not in fact feel that he was actually doing anything wrong at all, and that he felt that his basic civil rights were being blatantly violated. Both Lawrence and Garner were charged under the 'homosexual conduct law' of Texas, which prohibited the so-called 'deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex' and felt that this law was in fact preserving the state of the morals of its citizens. Several 'gay rights' groups and other supporters stated that the state must not be given the right to simply burst into another person's bedroom and arrest them, even if they happened to be indulging in sex with another person of the same sex. The gay groups felt that this sort of law would result in the prevention of gays from being able to choose their professions like anybody else, and also that they would be severely discriminated against in all spheres of life, and that their basic fundamental rights as a citizen of the United States of America were being denied to them, just because they were homosexuals. (Supreme Court strikes down Texas Sodomy Law)

Who delivered the opinion of the Court? On November 4, 1999, the arguments of the petitioners were presented to a panel of three Judges of the 14th District Court of Appeals of Texas, where judges John S. Anderson and Chief Justice Paul Murphy passed the rule in favor of the defendants. The cause and the reason that was stated for this ruling was that the Texas Law was in fact in direct violation of the 'Equal Rights Amendment' to the Constitution that had been attached in 1972. Under this law, the equal rights of the citizen were protected, and this included prohibition of any sort of discrimination based on color, sex, creed, race, and natural origins. It was fixed that the case would be heard on April 31, 2001, in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and this Court denied review. Thereafter, another petition was filed on July 16, 2002, and the case was to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, by the process of granting a 'writ of certiorari'. It was in March of 2003 when the case was finally heard in the Supreme Court, and the final decision was given on June 26 of the same year. The Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 'majority opinion' of the Court, and the Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer joined in the decision. It was by these people that the ruling was passed that homosexuals were protected under the Constitution of the United States of America, and that these people had all the right to indulge in the conduct of their own choosing in the privacy of their own choosing, without any fear of government intervention at any point of time. (Lawrence vs. Texas: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) All the statutes that 'criminalized' consensual homosexuality and also heterosexual sodomy were struck down from the Laws of the state of Texas. In essence, the judiciary has recognized that the gays of the world have a right to certain rights and privileges that are enjoyed by the common man too, in fact, he too is just an ordinary person, and not abnormal in any way. (International Human Rights law informs recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Anti-Gay Sodomy Laws)

What was the issue before the Court in the case of Lawrence vs. Texas? The most important issue in this case was the judicial recognition and acknowledgement of the rights of gays and lesbians. (International Human Rights law informs recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Anti-Gay Sodomy Laws) In an article by Dahlia Lithwick, the writer offers the opinion that there are in fact two types of homophobias in the state of Texas; one is the fear and the hatred of all things homosexual, and the other is the feeling of fondness and affection for the gays of the state, and not of the acts that they indulge in: they are OK as long as they do not reveal their activities. This sort of feeling, the writer feels was the primary issue in the case of Lawrence vs. Texas, and was indeed the veritable lynchpin in the hearing of the case. When the petitioners Lawrence and Garnre challenged the law, stating that the police action in entering their private home under the false compliant of a neighbor and arresting them and also fining them when they were doing nothing wrong, according to them, was in fact a blatant violation of the promise of privacy and equal rights offered by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. (The Supreme Court tries Sodomy)

The issue at stake here was the basic loss of rights under the Fundamental rights granted to all the citizens of the United States of America. The 'fundamental rights' referred to in this case may be included to encompass the contraception and the abortion rights of the citizens of the state, without fear of government interference. This type of family related and private and often intimate choices made by individuals, as a part of exercising their basic rights within the law must definitely be protected from any interference by the government. The case of Roe vs. Wade was one such case where the 'equal protection' and 'equal rights' of all the citizens of the state was the issue at stake, and it was ruled that the state has no right to prosecute against certain specific classes of individuals, unless there is some very specific and real reason for doing so, and this must include a 'rational purpose' and also a 'legitimate government purpose' behind such acts of prosecution. (The Supreme Court tries Sodomy)

The case of Bowers vs. Hardwick of 1986 has often been quoted in relation to the case of Lawrence vs. Texas, and in that case the issue was whether the privacy and the fundamental rights of the citizen under the Constitution of the U.S.A. did in fact apply to the case, which was about the rights of homosexuals. The issue of whether 'gay sodomy' applied to this case was discussed and overthrown, stating that it did not apply. The entire issue became extremely confusing at one point of time, when several ideas were peddled back and forth among the representative of 'Lawrence', Paul Smith, and the Justice Antonin Scalia, when finally things reached such an extent that Smith was asked to raise his right hand when arguing on one track, and his left hand when arguing on another!

The claim made that it was the Chief Justice William Rehnquist questioned the right of individuals under the privacy right to commit the act of gay sodomy, and this question was actually based on the previous ruling in the Bowers case. Smith offered the argument that the very issue of laws banning and prohibiting homosexual behavior did not even exist until the nineteenth century, and Judge Scalia responded that sodomy has been mentioned in several books for a long time, but it applied to heterosexual and to married couples and not to homosexual ones. Smith responded by stating that it is not at…[continue]

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