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Supreme Court case-Lawrence v. Texas

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  • Supreme Court case-Lawrence v. Texas

    On June 26, 2003, the supreme court held a Texas criminal statute unconstitutional. The statute was about homosexual sex acts, but the majority's reasoning calls into question laws shaped "...by religious beliefs, conceptions of right and acceptable behavior... The issue is whether the majority may use the power of the State to enforce these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law. 'Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.'" In his dissent, Justice Scalia mentions the implications for public nudity laws, among other laws he would like to uphold.

  • #2
    On June 26, 2003, the supreme court held a Texas criminal statute unconstitutional. The statute was about homosexual sex acts, but the majority's reasoning calls into question laws shaped "...by religious beliefs, conceptions of right and acceptable behavior... The issue is whether the majority may use the power of the State to enforce these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law. 'Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.'" In his dissent, Justice Scalia mentions the implications for public nudity laws, among other laws he would like to uphold.

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    • #3
      FANRlawyer,

      If you'll forgive me for restating myself, your commment illustrates yet one more example of state and regional governments abbridging a behavior that we should decide on nationwide.

      Allowing laws pro or con on this issue, abortion, nudity, etc. at the local level mean that an American has radically different levels of personal freedom depending on his state of residence.

      I do feel there is a danger of the enactment of law by judicial fiat, but no matter what side you come down on this issue, I believe it should be decided between US Congress and US Supreme Court, not state legislatures and state courts.

      I do not oppose the passage of laws inspired by religious beliefs. After all there is a lot of insight we can gain from them, they can provide a general framework for broad concepts of justice. However, I do not want to see laws passed which use religious teachings or irreligious concepts to deny the free expression of one's way of life, provided that behavior does not in turn appreciably interfere with another person's belief system.

      Let me ask you this: Can a constitutionally sound case be made by opponents of public nudity that nudity is so inherently offensive to people of certain belief systems that laws must be enacted to deny a person's right to appear in public without clothes?

      Is my right to be nude so fundamental to human freedom that no state or federal entity should be allowed to pass a law that restricts public nudity in any fashion?

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      • #4
        In Canada, the Supreme Court has just ruled that gays and lesbians can marry. There is also another ruling that swinging, conducted in private, is legal. But public orgies are not condoned. (Damn.)

        Hopefully, we'll soon get a ruling that mere nudity in public is not illegal.

        We Canadisns seem to be a pretty tolerant and with-it bunch.

        Gary

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        • #5
          Trailscout, Before the Lawrence case, there was City of Erie v. PAPS A.M. 120 S.Ct.1382 (2000), which upheld a city ordinance banning public nudity. There, the court found no right to be nude which would "trump" a legislative enactment.

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          • #6
            What's to keep a city from passing a law requiring burkas for women?

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            • #7
              What are burkas? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]

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              • #8

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                • #9
                  I like the idea of big issues decided nationally because the views of many who are left out of the debate on local levels can be considered. Some have said that the Supreme Court was following national social trends but I think the decision was more about what adults can do that is not ingerently illegal. I give a lot of credence to the rights of state and local governments but too often, those who speak up loudest are those who want to take away freedoms for most people. I think the open minded people, like myself, just kind of go with the flow until we are infringed upon.

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                  • #10
                    I lost something in this decision by the Supreme Court. What does the legalization of the privacy of what two adults do in their bedroom have to do with all the other issues that were brought up.

                    Nice picture of the lady in a burka. It's a good thing we don't live in a muslim country. We would have lots more to worry about.

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                    • #11
                      Rainy City Mike, The decision in Lawrence does not directly affect nudity laws. My point is that the reasoning of the supreme court's majority opinion logically applies equally to other laws enacted based on the moral impulses of a majority of citizens against the liberty interests of the few. Courts, up to the Supreme Court, may be persuaded to extend the rationale of Lawrence to other contexts, including public nudity laws.

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                      • #12
                        How about a Supreme Court that simply interprets the law & lets the Legislative branch re-write it? Oh, wait- that's how it is SUPPOSE to be.

                        My problem with the ruling isn't the overall concept rather than the truck-size holes in the various opinions. By their own wording, they have opened the door for almost ANY kind of activity that can be described as "consensual", "private", or a host of other descriptions- excluding age, which will come next.

                        I don't think such laws should be determined nationally. Each state varies politically, culturally, and philosophically. In Utah, I can safely bet that any type of sodomy law would pass by majority vote. Vermont, on the other hand, would probably be the first to accept it with open arms. I shudder to think how some of our smaller, less influential states (such as Utah)would be effected by the strong-arm liberal tactics from California and similar states.

                        I agree the government should not be allowed in our bedrooms except to protect children and that morality should not be legislated. However, it already is in some cases to protect the innocent- such as abortion. Under a microscope, most of our original laws were based on a Biblical or spiritual basis as just simply being wrong. Now we have politicians trying to undue all of that by saying we have no need for the Bible or any spiritual guidance. Doesn't that concept scare people more than anything?

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                        • #13
                          quote:
                          How about a Supreme Court that simply interprets the law & lets the Legislative branch re-write it? Oh, wait- that's how it is SUPPOSE to be.
                          Two problems with this position.

                          Problem 1: Sometimes there are gaps in the law. A situation arises that the legislature has not thought of. The Court needs to decide what to do (by the application of legal principles).

                          Problem 2: Sometimes the legislative branch makes laws that they are simply not permitted to make. The Constitution not only gives the legislature the right to make laws, it circumscribes that right within limits. The Supreme Court is specifically empowered under the Constitution to review laws written by the legislature where there is a claim made that they go beyond the power under the Constitution.

                          If the Supreme Court was always subservient to the legislature, there would be no check on misuse of legislative power.

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                          • #14
                            quote:
                            Originally posted by AussieBeachBoy:
                            [qb]
                            quote:
                            How about a Supreme Court that simply interprets the law & lets the Legislative branch re-write it? Oh, wait- that's how it is SUPPOSE to be.
                            Two problems with this position.

                            Problem 1: Sometimes there are gaps in the law. A situation arises that the legislature has not thought of. The Court needs to decide what to do (by the application of legal principles).

                            Problem 2: Sometimes the legislative branch makes laws that they are simply not permitted to make. The Constitution not only gives the legislature the right to make laws, it circumscribes that right within limits. The Supreme Court is specifically empowered under the Constitution to review laws written by the legislature where there is a claim made that they go beyond the power under the Constitution.

                            If the Supreme Court was always subservient to the legislature, there would be no check on misuse of legislative power. [/qb]
                            Problem 3: The laws that are passed by Congress are generally only reviewed if the law has been broken by someone and the defendants then have the financial resources to challenge the law up through the chain of courts to the Supreme Court, assuming they choose to appeal if they get convicted.

                            Furthermore, in the case of challenges to State or Local laws, the Supreme Court gets to arbitrarily decide if they even wish to hear the case at all.

                            Therefore, bad laws can be quite difficult to challenge indeed. The whole process leads to laws that, left unchallenged, stay on the books forever unless either repealed or superceded by another act of Congress, an extremely unlikely scenario in laws that affect social behavior.

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