The Judiciary, Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

The Judiciary, Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Section 1: The constitutional issue
The constitutional issue involved was right to privacy of gays, as well as, lesbians in the United States of America. In particular, the issue regarded the question of whether or not a statute making it a crime for two individuals of the same sex to embed themselves in a certain intimate conduct violated the due process clause.
Facts of the case
Houston police were hinted of weapon disturbance in Lawrence`s apartment and were dispatched to this apartment right after. Upon arriving at the apartment, the police officers found the two people, Lawrence and Garner (D) embedded in a sexual act. The two people were arrested, charged and convicted under deviate sexual intercourse under Texas law. The deviate sexual intercourse included anal sex with another man. Lawrence together with Garner challenged the statute and claimed it to be a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court imposed a sanction of $200 each and ordered to pay $141.25 in costs. In the Court of Appeal, the federal constitutional arguments of the defendant under both the equal protection, in addition to, the due process clauses of the fourteenth amendment were considered. Upon hearing the case, the constitutional arguments were dismissed by the court and convictions were affirmed. It was held out that Bowers v. Hardwick case was controlling regarding the issue of the due process. Certiorari was granted by the Supreme Court.
Projections to the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court was required to determine three particular three particular things whether the criminal convictions placed on the petitioner under the Texas Homosexual Conduct law was in violation with the guarantee of equal protection of laws as per the Fourteenth Amendment whether the criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in the petitioner`s home was in violation with their essential interests in privacy, as well as, liberty, which were being protected by the due process clause of the fourteenth Amendment and whether overruling was necessary in the case between Bowers and Hardwick (Eskridge, 1999).
Summary of Opinion and Dissent
To Justice Anthony Kennedy, respect for the petitioner`s private lives had to be respected. Their existence could not be demeaned, and their destiny could not be controlled by the court through making their private sexual conduct a crime.
After a review of the views of Justice Stevens in Bowers, Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated that Bowers was not correct, and the decision was not applicable today and could not remain binding precedent (Eskridge, 1999). The majority opinion also claimed that the intimate, adult consensual conduct at issue was part and parcel of the liberty, which was being protected by the substantive component of the Fourteenth Amendment`s protection of the due process clause.
There is no instance in the court opinion that declares that heterosexual sodomy is a fundamental right under the clause of due process. In addition to this, there is nowhere that it subjects the Texas laws to the standard review that would be rendered most appropriate if homosexual sodomy was a fundamental right. Therefore, while the outcome of the Bowers was being overruled, the legal conclusion of the court is left strangely untouched. Rather, the conduct of the petitioner as exercise of their liberty, the court decides to apply a form of relational-basis review, which was un-heard of that would have far-reaching implications beyond this particular case.
Impact of the case
The significant rise of sodomy related activities in America right after the ruling hurt the feelings of people within the society, particularly the religious people. They felt that the American society was being demoralized, and this had negative impacts not only to them but to the generation that was to follow. Generally, the American image was being tarnished, and this had overall negative implications. On the legal impact of Lambda, all sodomy laws were rendered unconstitutional and were halted. This marked a new era of legal respect taking the LGBT community into consideration.
Personal Opinion
Indeed, this ruling was essential and worthwhile. Gay men and lesbians ought to share similar fundamental liberty rights to private sexual intimacy with another adult just like heterosexuals do.
Section 2
A brief analysis of the specific civil liberty being reviewed in the assigned case
The Homosexual Rights Lawrence v. Texas case occurred in 2003 and has been branded as a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. The constitutional issue involved was right to privacy of gays, as well as, lesbians in the U.S. Specifically the issue regarded the question of whether or not a statute making it a crime for two persons of the same gender to participate in certain intimate conducted violated the due process clause (Dubler, 2006). Often, the legal punishment for sodomy in America ranged from heavy fines to life imprisonment. Since 1960, every State within America had implemented sodomy laws applying to private, adult, as well as, consensual behavior.
In a 1986 case involving Bowers and Hardwick, a challenge was rejected, and the decision for the majority was that the right to engage in procreative sexual intercourse had just been recognized and the long-standing moral antipathy towards homosexual sodomy was adequate as a basis on which the notion of the right to sodomy could be argued against. However, the dissents argued that the constitution had to protect people as individuals and disdain from protecting them as family units (Franke, 2004). Following this case was the Lawrence v. Texas case, which involved a similar issue, the right of gays and lesbians to privacy not being protected. This time it was Lawrence and garner who challenged the constitution arguing that the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment`s equal protection clause. They felt that their privacy was being neglected yet civil liberty required privacy protection for all.
The specific facts of the case that was brought to the Supreme Court for review
John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arraigned in the court having been arrested in charges that the two were violating a Texas criminal law that rendered it a crime to engage in oral and anal sexual intercourse especially involving two people of the same gender. While it was a false tip regarding weapon disturbance by a neighbor, police officers invaded their apartment where they witnessed the same sex couple having sex. The officers arrested, charged and convicted under deviate sexual intercourse under Texas law. The deviate sexual intercourse included anal sex with a person belonging to the same gender. To the charges placed on them by the officers, Lawrence and Garner pleaded no contest. A fine of $200 each and ordered to pay $141.25 in costs was imposed on the two persons (Sternglantz, 2005).
Lawrence and Garner appealed to both the Texas court Appeals, as well as, to the Criminal Court of Appeals. Their argument was that the law violated the due process, as well as, equal protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment. According to them, the law was only applicable in the case of homosexuals. However, these arguments were rejected by the Texas Court of Appeal based on the 1986`s ruling of the Bowers and Hardwick case by the Supreme Court. In this particular case, the court voted 5-4 to uphold a criminal sodomy statute of Georgia (Sternglantz, 2005). Thus, committing sodomy among homosexuals was not a constitutional right. The legal commentators and Supreme Courts advanced severe contentions on this, which had overturned sodomy statutes that were seemingly based on the due clauses of the state constitution. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Texas case, and this was a sign that there was a second thought, as well, among the court members.
Summary of the Supreme Court Opinion and Dissent
A 6-3 decision was released by the Supreme Court and this decision struck down the Texas Statue. Out of the six justices, five of them held that the Texas Statute violated the guarantees of the due process. On the other hand, one justice held the Texas Statute as violating the guarantees of the equal protection (Moritz College of Law, 2004).
Majority opinion
Writing the majority opinion which other four justices joined, Justice Anthony Kennedy claimed that Lawrence and Garner were entitled to respect for their private lives. He further indicated that the statute had no right to demean the existence of the petitioners and also had no right to control their destiny byway of making their private sexual lives criminal behavior (Moritz College of Law, 2004).
It was also held by the majority decision that the intimate, adult consensual conduct at issue was part and parcel of the liberty, which was being protected by the Fourteenth Amendment`s substantive component.
The dissent can be described in two categories the Scalia dissent and Thomas dissent.
Scalia Dissent
This was from Justice Antonin Scalia and two other justices joined. The justice claimed that the decision to revisit the Bowers by the court. The justice indicated that an array of decision originating from lower courts had relied on Bowers and might need to be reconsidered.
The justice also criticized the majority opinion claiming that the majority decision failed miserably in providing the same respect to stare decisis, which three of justice on the majority opinion side had insisted during the Planned Parenthood v. Casey`s Case.
He claimed that the court was not in any way prepared to validate laws on the basis of moral choices as it had been in the case involving Bowers and Hardwick.
Thomas Dissent
Justice Thomas dismissed the Court struck down as “uncommonly silly”. However, he saw it necessary to uphold the struck down owing to the fact that the Justice could not find the general right of privacy or even the relevant liberty in the constitution. Further, the Justice indicated that if he was among the member of the Texas Legislature, he would vote for the repealing of the law.
Impact of the case to our current lives
Generally, the legal changes that were wrought by the case have been significant. Same sex marriages have prevailed at an overwhelming rate in regions such as Massachusetts, Virginia and California. In addition to this, especially in Alabama, the usage of sex toys has increased and cases of gay adoption have increased in Florida (Richards, 2009). In Kansas, 18 years old woman was reported to have initiated oral sex with a 14 year old boy and was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment. These are just but a few societal misdemeanors that followed after the case. Such have diminished the image of America and has also diminished the religious beliefs and practices. It has been advanced that while ensuring that homosexual rights are granted, the judicial system is, on the other hand, failing to protect the rights of the society, particularly of the religious people (Carpenter, 2012).
People have openly demonstrated seeking to abandon these laws that favor the presence of the same sex marriage. Most argue that the young generations are growing knowing that same sex relationships are ideal. If this continues, then where is America headed?
Another negative implication is on the courts particularly the Lambda. As such, all sodomy laws were rendered unconstitutional and were halted. This marked a new era of legal respect for the LGBT community (Richards, 2009).
Personal reflection
Civil liberty is a term used commonly to define the civil right, as well as, freedoms that tend to provide an individual with civil rights. Just like the constitution protects the privacy of normal relationships, the privacy for gays and lesbians should be protected, as well, and in an equal manner. Furthermore, they chose that course of life and if so, why should the American constitution not protect them? As an American citizen, I tend to think that the right to privacy protection should be upheld for each and every human being irrespective of whether from the minority group or not. The constitution cannot afford to single out a particular group if it is meant for the common man. Everyone in America has a right to choose.
Therefore, choosing to live or raise a same sex family should not be assumed as an offence. Thus, it is my take that the protection of gay and lesbianism must be upheld and should not be discriminated against. In this regard, I fully agree with the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Homosexual Rights Lawrence v. Texas case.
Carpenter, D. (2012).Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Dubler, A. R. (2006). From McLaughlin v. Florida to Lawrence v. Texas: Sexual Freedom and the Road to Marriage. Columbia Law Review, 106(5), 1165 – 87.
Eskridge, W. (1999).Hardwick and Historiography.University of Illinois Law Review, 23(4), 680.
Franke, K. M. (2004). Domesticated Liberty of Lawrence v. Texas.Columbia Law Review, 104(5), 1401 – 4.
Moritz College of Law.(2004). Equality, Privacy and Lesbian and Gay Rights after Lawrence V. Texas. Ohio, OH: Students of the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Richards, D. A. J. (2009). The sodomy cases: Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas. Westbrooke St, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.
Sternglantz, R. E. (2005). Raining on the Parade of Horribles: Of Slippery Slopes, Faux Slopes, and Justice Scalia`s Dissent in Lawrence V. Texas. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 153(3), 1118 – 20.