Lawrence v. Texas

539 U.S. 558 (2003)


Houston police entered an apartment where one of the petitioners, Lawrence (D), resided. The officers observed D and another man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a sexual act. Ds were arrested, held in custody overnight, and charged and convicted before a Justice of the Peace. They committed the crime of “deviate sexual intercourse, namely anal sex, with a member of the same sex (man).” Ds challenged the statute as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and a like provision of the Texas Constitution. Those contentions were rejected. The petitioners, having entered a plea of nolo contendere, were each fined $200 and assessed court costs of $141.25. The Court of Appeals for the Texas Fourteenth District considered Ds' federal constitutional arguments under both the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. After hearing the case en banc the court, in a divided opinion, rejected the constitutional arguments and affirmed the convictions. The majority opinion indicates that the Court of Appeals considered the decision in Bowers v. Hardwick to be controlling on the federal due process aspect of the case. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.