Equal Justice Under Law

The stirring injunction that adorns the pediment of the US Supreme Court has a new resonance today – and Andrew Sullivan is ecstatic.

In a 6/3 majority decision the Court yesterday struck down the gay-specific anti sodomy laws of Texas thereby implicitly invalidating all remaining constraints against private adult consensual sexual expression – straight and gay – within the US. It also overturns the Court’s judgment in Bowers vs Hardwick 17 years ago – the case that allowed the continuation of state-imposed, sexuality-specific discrimination.

The case arose in 1998 when a Houston householder feuding with a gay neighbour, called the cops on the false pretext that “a guy is going crazy with a gun next door.” The cops instead found two guys having sex and promptly charged them under legislaton that prohibited such monstrous goings-on.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that gay people “are entitled to respect for their private lives,” adding that “the state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”

Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer agreed with Justice Kennedy. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor sided with the majority in its decision, but in a separate opinion disagreed with some of Justice Kennedy’s reasoning.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent and took the unusual step of reading it aloud from the bench this morning, saying “the court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda,” while adding that he personally has “nothing against homosexuals.” Joining Justice Scalia’s dissent were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas.

Justice Scalia said he believed the ruling paved the way for homosexual marriages. “This reasoning leaves on shaky, pretty shaky, grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples,” he wrote.

Justice Thomas on the other hand observed that had he been a Texas legislator, he would have voted to repeal a “stupid” law but that he did not believe that the constitutional case had been made for the Court so to do.

I’m not sure what the “homosexual agenda” is but I suspect the US is a long way from imposing compulsory gym workouts and inherent good taste requirements on all adult males….

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Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Sandra Day o’Connor has dropped hints that she is going to retire soon. John Paul Stevens was appointed by Gerald Ford, so he can’t have long to go.

It’s a safe bet that Dubya will appoint replacements who won’t be signing on the homosexual agenda, so this particular majority might well have a very limited half life.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I read a piece the other day where Ruth Ginsburg suggested that the atmosphere within the court was unusually poisonous. They were planning a “healing BBQ” to mark the end of the current session. Wonder who cooked?

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Antonin Scalia cooked his specialty: spleen marinated in bile.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

From the little that was quoted how is Scalia marinating in bile ( technicaly a silly analogy)?

I thought Thomas’s comments seemed sensible to me.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I think Dave’s reference was more about Scalia’s reputation as a highly combative, deeply conservative justice who frequently vents his not inconsiderable spleen on his colleagues and on those unfortunate enough to incur his wrath while presenting arguments before them..