High Court Poised to Hear 2 Equal Protection Cases
In one, race as a ‘plus’ factor in admission policies is challenged;
the other tests whether gays can be prosecuted for having sex at home.
Los Angeles Times,
November 29, 2002
Los Angeles, CA 90053
Fax: 213-237-7679 or 213-237-5319
By David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court is poised to take up
major cases on college affirmative action and gay rights, possibly as early as
Monday, that seek to overturn much-disputed precedents, one the bane of
conservatives and the other a thorn for liberals.
Both cases test the meaning of the Constitution’s guarantee of the
"equal protection of the laws." . . .
The second tests whether gays can be prosecuted for having sex at home.
In 1986, the court in a 5-4 vote upheld the prosecution of two gay men
under a Georgia anti-sodomy law in the case of Bowers vs. Hardwick.
That case focused on the right to privacy. The Lambda Legal Defense Fund in
New York, a gay rights group, is urging the court to revisit the Bowers
decision and to rule that prosecuting same-sex couples, but not heterosexuals,
for sodomy violates the equal-treatment standard.
The latest case, Lawrence vs. Texas, arose when two men, John
Lawrence and Tyron Garner, were arrested in a Houston-area apartment by
officers who were responding to a false report of an armed intruder. Instead,
the police arrested the men, and they were fined $200 for having sex.
"The state should not have that power, and we are asking the Supreme
Court ... to strike down this discriminatory law once and for all," says
Ruth Harlow, Lambda’s legal director.
The Texas law criminalizes "deviate sexual intercourse with another
individual of the same sex." Besides Texas, only three other states—Kansas,
Oklahoma and Missouri—still enforce anti-sodomy laws that target gays and
The gay rights lawyers hope the court’s liberal justices will vote to
revisit the issue. Their appeal went before the high court this week. . . .
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