Skip to comments.Kansas Man Wants Sodomy Conviction Overturned
Posted on 10/27/2003 3:44:32 AM PST by kattracks
(CNSNews.com) - The Supreme Court's decision outlawing anti-sodomy laws will face its first constitutional test when a Kansas man asks the state appeals court to free him from a 17-year sentence for having homosexual sex with a minor.
Matthew Limon has already spent more than three years in jail for having oral sex with a 14-year-old boy in February 2000 at a school for the developmentally disabled. Limon was 18 years of age and a registered sex offender at the time. The state prosecuted him under a statute criminalizing sex between an adult and a child.
The Supreme Court's June ruling in the Lawrence v. Texas case has given Limon a new avenue to appeal his 17-year sentence. The case is complex, but Limon is essentially asking the state to prosecute him under its "Romeo and Juliet" law, which only applies to heterosexuals.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, which is serving as Limon's defense, believes the "Romeo and Juliet" law should apply to homosexuals as well as heterosexuals.
The statute criminalizes voluntary sexual relations between heterosexuals less than 19 years of age with another person between 14 and 16 years of age. Sentences typically run from 13 to 15 months, and judges can impose a lesser penalty for couples that marry.
Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has defended Limon's prosecution. He has the support of 25 state lawmakers who filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the Lawrence decision has nothing to do with pedophilia or any other laws regulating sex between adults and minors.
Limon's attorney, Tamara Lange of the ACLU, said the attorney general and state lawmakers have it wrong. She said the case presents the same equal protection question that was central to the Lawrence decision.
"Imposing criminal liability for sex between teenagers is not at issue in this case," Lange said. "The question is, 'Can you impose a different amount of penalty? Can you send a kid to jail for 17 years instead of 15 months just because it was with a member of the same sex instead of a member of the opposite sex?'"
The Lawrence decision outlawed a Texas law criminalizing sodomy. Conservatives have harshly criticized the ruling. Last week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia scoffed at the decision in a speech before an anniversary celebration of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
Kline has suggested that Limon's case, taken in conjunction with the Lawrence decision, threatens family values. In September, he told Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly that it could undo state laws on marriage and underage sex.
That concern prompted the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based religious-liberties group, to intervene in Limon's case on behalf of the Kansas lawmakers. Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel for the Liberty Counsel, defended the "Romeo and Juliet" law as a legitimate punishment for heterosexuals.
"You may have someone who's just above age who gets a minor pregnant, and those are people who may become married," Staver said. "You don't want to incarcerate the husband or the wife when you're trying to encourage them to get married."
State Rep. Jeff Goering (R-Wichita) is one of the 25 lawmakers who signed on to the Liberty Counsel's brief. He said the court should leave it up to the legislature to determine appropriate criminal punishments.
"In Limon's case, you have a defendant who had twice been previously convicted of aggravated criminal sodomy, who was a registered sex offender and who was engaged in sexual relations with a 14-year-old developmentally disabled boy," Goering said. "Even if the 'Romeo and Juliet' statute applied to same-sex acts, that is not what the legislature intended when we passed the law."
Lange, however, said that's the wrong outlook, particularly in the wake of the Lawrence decision. She said the fact that the Supreme Court remanded the case for further consideration should give Limon hope he will be released based on the time he has already served.
"It's the court's job under our Constitution to make sure that the legislature doesn't infringe on constitutional rights," Lange said. "The court's not writing the 'Romeo and Juliet' statute, they're simply structuring it by taking out one little phrase that makes that law unconstitutional as it's applied."
See Earlier Story:
Homosexuals Ask Supreme Court to Strike Down 'Anti-Gay' Laws (Oct. 14, 2002)
Listen to audio for this story.
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Take that Ginsberg/Oconner. THIS is what the democratic party has come to represent.
OK! So how full of horse manure am I when I declare federal judges are noble and THUS ABOVE THE CONSTITUTION AND THE LAWS FOR WE PEASENTS!!!! Good LORD!! This pervert made a young, retarded boy suck his *&^%, and because these judges are honored and thus gods, literally, he will be let go, for this horrendous act upon this child and we can't do a thing but whine and complain.
My gosh! DOes anybody actually believe the wording of the Constitution was such to let such a pervert do this all he wants!!! GROW UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"Romeo and Juliet law" is a remarkably stupid name for a law that wouldn't even have applied to them.
Juliet was 13. Romeo was either 16 or 17, from what I've been able to find. In either case, their relationship wouldn't fit under this law.
That certainly seems to be what the U.S. Supreme Court thought when they vacated the Kansas judgment against Limon and instructed the Kansas courts to reconsider in light of Lawrence.
The majority in Lawrence expressly refused to decide the case on the basis of equal protection.
Poster boy of ACLU morality.
I wasn't aware they vacated the Limon judgment. It just means that my expansive reading of the Lawrence case is correct. People's heads are going to be spinning as this works thru the court system over the next few years.
While statuatory rape between heterosexuals usually is harmless (or far less damaging depending on ages involved) to the development of the participants, 'homosexual' rape almost always destroys the life of the raped.
The first law of homosexuality applies
But their reasoning included an 'equal protection' type argument.
Do you think that there is any remaining room for any state to create or apply any laws in a way that impacts homosexuals differently than normal people? I don't.
The only possible out is that O'Conner may recoil from the necessary application of the reasoning of Lawrence when she is faced with real cases. So she will split yet another hair that noone other than her can even see.
Lawrence is the final step by the Court in eliminating any textual significance to the Constitution. It has been replaced, sub silentio, by a federal common law comprised of what five justices think is a good idea at the time. This is really much more than the Court cutting itself completely loose from any notion that they are actually interpreting a document. It is the arrogation of the power to decide any dispute, any time in a manner destructive of a Federal Republic.
It was an appalling decision.
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