Court Uses 'Flimsy Principle' to Strike Down Texas Sodomy Law

By Robert B. Bluey | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law banning homosexual sodomy Thursday, much to the dismay of conservatives who criticized the justices for extending the right of privacy to deviant sexual acts.

The 6-3 decision, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, gives homosexuals a resounding victory and likely prohibits Texas and 12 other states from enforcing their sodomy bans. It also overturns a 1986 Supreme Court decision that upheld those laws as constitutional.

The court's decision came down to a right of privacy for homosexuals to engage in sexual conduct in their own bedrooms without government intervention.

Kennedy said the two men arrested for having sex, John G. Lawrence and Tyron Garner, "are entitled to respect for their private lives." He added: "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."

Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy for Focus on the Family, said the fact that the court relied on privacy might be the "silver lining" for conservatives.

"The court based all of its decision on the right of privacy," he said. "It did not find a fundamental right for homosexuals to commit homosexual acts. We feared they would find that, and they did not. It's the same flimsy principle they used to decide abortion is constitutional."

Conservatives across America expressed their disappointment in the decision. Some said it was especially troubling that Kennedy, one of President Ronald Reagan's appointees, wrote the decision. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, another Reagan appointee, filed a separate concurring opinion.

"This case today, I think, provides a prime example of the court rewriting the law based on their own understanding of the prevailing winds of cultural fashion, rather than actual precedent in the Constitution or the law," said Peter Sprigg, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Marriage and Family Studies.

The court also demonstrated an elitist attitude that it knew what was better for America than the communities trying to establish their own values, according to some critics.

"Given that the court is now governed by an elite group that reflects the liberal opinion of major universities and even corporate boards, I think they will continue to function as a wrecking ball in our culture and destroy the legal framework for having a family friendly society," said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America's Culture & Family Institute.

Homosexuals and their supporters were elated by the decision. They plan rallies in 35 cities across the country tonight celebrating the decision.

Ruth Harlow, lead attorney for Lawrence and Garner in the case and legal director at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, said the decision would give homosexuals a tool to attack laws banning same-sex marriage. Homosexuals have also said they want to target discrimination in schools and in the workplace as well.

"This decision very strongly recognizes gay people's equal humanity and that our lives are entitled to the same protections under the Constitution as other people's lives," Harlow said. "It certainly puts us on a much stronger footing to attack other forms of discrimination."

Lawrence also praised the court for its ruling and expressed relief that he could move on with his life after being subject to public scrutiny ever since his arrest in 1998.

See Earlier Story:

Homosexuals Ask Supreme Court to Strike Down Sodomy Laws (March 27, 2003)

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