scotus gets it right

Updated June 28: Here in America, the land of the free, teenagers are put in prison for having sex. Doesn’t that make you feel safer? From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court announced yesterday the first ripple effect of its landmark decision on gay rights, ordering a Kansas court to reconsider its approval of a 17-year sentence meted out to an 18-year-old man for having consensual sex with a 14-year-old boy. Without comment or published dissent, the court vacated the Kansas Court of Appeals’ ruling last year that Matthew Limon’s sentence was constitutional even though the same conduct between two persons of different sexes would have received a far lighter penalty under Kansas law. (emphasis added)

As the Washington Post reports:

The Supreme Court struck down Texas’s ban on private consensual sex between adults of the same sex today, in a landmark ruling that enshrined for the first time a broad constitutional right to sexual privacy.

Lawrence et al. v. Texas
Argued March 26, 2003óDecided June 26, 2003
Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority:

Had those who drew and ratified the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment known the components of liberty in its manifold possibilities, they might have been more specific. They did not presume to have this insight. They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Texas Fourteenth District is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Read the opinion for yourself.

I am very happy with this decision, but while Kennedy’s belief that “persons in every generation [will engage in] their own search for greater freedom” is admirable, it fails to recognize that often one person’s oppression is another person’s freedom. The Christian right, for example, argues that they (and their always-invoked children) should have the right to be free from the “homosexual agenda.” And it’s not inconceivable that they’ll eventually end up with a Supreme Court that agrees with them. It was only 17 years ago, in Bowers v. Hardwick that the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution contains no “fundamental right” for people of the same sex to engage in intercourse. Lawrence et al. v. Texas overturns Bowers v. Hardwick, but surely the more recent decision will not remain unchallenged by subsequent cases. The U.S. Constitution will inevitably be open to continual re-interpretation (including interpretations that claim they are not interpretations, which is the rhetorical position often favored by conservative jurists), but we can’t really expect that this process will only go in one direction, politically speaking.

Oh, let’s not be so serious for the whole entry, G. Here’s a quote from the WashPost story that’s too good to resist:

“Today’s decision has awakened a sleeping giant and will galvanize and reinvigorate the majority of Americans who believe in traditional marriage but have ignored the radical agenda of the same-sex marriage movement,” said Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Florida-based Liberty Counsel.

What marriage traditions are you alluding to, Mr. Staver? Do you mean those American matrimonial practices such as boredom, lying, infidelity, 50% divorce rates, spousal abuse, freakshow marriage-themed reality tv shows, and other sacred practices? Oh no, can’t let those gay men and lesbians get married, because that would really undermine this great thing the breeders have going.

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  1. Weekend Update

    Nope, I’m not talking about my weekend (although I should have some good news on a car soon), but I just wanted to do a little housecleaning with some recent political events that have been on my mind. The Results…

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