LAWRENCE AND GARNER v. TEXAS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
02-102
Petitioner 
Lawrence and Garner
Respondent 
Texas
Advocates
(Harris County Houston, Texas, argued the cause for Texas)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Responding to a reported weapons disturbance in a private residence, Houston police entered John Lawrence's apartment and saw him and another adult man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a private, consensual sexual act. Lawrence and Garner were arrested and convicted of deviate sexual intercourse in violation of a Texas statute forbidding two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct. In affirming, the State Court of Appeals held that the statute was not unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, with Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), controlling.

Question 

Do the criminal convictions of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner under the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law, which criminalizes sexual intimacy by same-sex couples, but not identical behavior by different-sex couples, violate the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of laws? Do their criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in the home violate their vital interests in liberty and privacy protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? Should Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), be overruled?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Lawrence and Garner, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

No, yes, and yes. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Court held that the Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the Due Process Clause. After explaining what it deemed the doubtful and overstated premises of Bowers, the Court reasoned that the case turned on whether Lawrence and Garner were free as adults to engage in the private conduct in the exercise of their liberty under the Due Process Clause. "Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government," wrote Justice Kennedy. "The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual," continued Justice Kennedy. Accordingly, the Court overruled Bowers. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, with whom Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Thomas joined, filed dissents.

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LAWRENCE AND GARNER v. TEXAS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 28 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_02_102/>.
LAWRENCE AND GARNER v. TEXAS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_02_102/ (last visited September 28, 2014).
"LAWRENCE AND GARNER v. TEXAS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 28, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_02_102/.