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Lawrence v. Texas

Supreme Court of the United States

March 26, 2003, Argued ; June 26, 2003, Decided

No. 02-102

Opinion

 [**2475]  [*562]   Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court.

] Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places. In our tradition the State is not omnipresent in the home. And there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the home, where the State should not be a dominant presence. Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought,  [****9]  belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct. The instant case involves liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions.

The question before the Court is the validity of a Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct.

In Houston, Texas, officers of the Harris County Police Department were dispatched to a private residence in response to a reported weapons disturbance. They entered an apartment where one of the petitioners, John Geddes Lawrence,  [*563]  resided. The right of the police to enter does not seem to have been questioned. The officers observed Lawrence and another [**2476]  man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a sexual act.  [***516]  The two petitioners were arrested, held in custody over night, and charged and convicted before a Justice of the Peace.

The complaints described their crime as "deviate sexual intercourse, namely anal sex, with a member of the same sex (man)." App. to Pet. for Cert. 127a, 139a. The applicable state law is Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 21.06(a) (2003). It provides: "A person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." The [****10]  statute defines "deviate sexual intercourse" as follows:

"(A) any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or

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539 U.S. 558 *; 123 S. Ct. 2472 **; 156 L. Ed. 2d 508 ***; 2003 U.S. LEXIS 5013 ****; 71 U.S.L.W. 4574; 2003 Cal. Daily Op. Service 5559; 2003 Daily Journal DAR 7036; 16 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 427

JOHN GEDDES LAWRENCE and TYRON GARNER, Petitioners v. TEXAS

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTEENTH DISTRICT.

Lawrence v. State, 41 S.W.3d 349, 2001 Tex. App. LEXIS 1776 (Tex. App. Houston 14th Dist., 2001)

Disposition: 41 S. W. 3d 349, reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

homosexual, sodomy, adult, fundamental rights, homosexual conduct, sexual, marriage, rooted, legitimate state interest, abortion, overrule, cases, sex, prosecutions, history and tradition, rational-basis, criminalize, disapproval, invalidated, Rights, criminal law, heterosexual, decisions, relations, morality, same-sex, state law, convictions, matters, consenting adults

Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, General Overview, Substantive Due Process, Privacy, Criminal Law & Procedure, Sexual Assault, Abuse of Adults, Equal Protection, Parentage, Nature & Scope of Protection, Personal Decisions, Governments, Courts, Scope, Judicial Precedent, Contracts Law, Consideration, Enforcement of Promises, Contract Formation, Illegal Consensual Relations, Interracial Relations, Authority to Adjudicate, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Civil Procedure, Parties, Intervention