Skip to comments.Two cases from Va. Beach challenge state's sodomy law
Posted on 07/12/2004 6:34:13 PM PDT by wagglebee
RICHMOND A Virginia Beach man convicted of soliciting sex in a department store bathroom is challenging the state's sodomy law, which prosecutors have continued to enforce a year after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Lawrence v. Texas.
Lambda Legal, the gay rights group that handled the Lawrence case, filed a petition with the Virginia Court of Appeals Monday on behalf of Joel Singson, who was convicted of solicitation of sodomy last year.
His challenge follows a similar petition to appeal that was filed by another Virginia Beach man in May, and a case involving two inmates that was appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court earlier this year.
At issue in each of the cases is whether the ruling that struck down a Texas law against sodomy in private settings invalidates Virginia's law. Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore maintains that Virginia's law is still enforceable against sodomy in public places, while opponents say the law should be stricken entirely.
Before the Lawrence decision, 13 states still had laws prohibiting sodomy between consenting adults, according to Lisa Hardaway, spokeswoman for Lambda Legal. She said she was aware of only two states Virginia and North Carolina still enforcing their sodomy laws after the ruling.
Singson, 36, was sentenced in February to six months in prison. His attorney, Greg Nivens, argues in the challenge that Singson should not have been prosecuted under an unconstitutional law.
"There are other laws that can apply here the prostitution statute and indecent exposure that cover public acts," said Greg Nivens, senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal's Atlanta office. "What's not available is use of the actual sodomy statute. ... The sodomy law is dead."
The prosecutor in the case, David Laird of the Virginia Beach Commonwealth Attorney's office, disagrees. Since Virginia's law makes no distinction between public and private acts, or between homosexual and heterosexual acts, it can still be enforced selectively, Laird said.
"If you can interpret it in a way that is constitutional, a judge is supposed to interpret it that way," he said.
Kilgore's office said it is prepared to defend the law.
"Our law is about public acts of sodomy," said Kilgore spokesman Tucker Martin. "We've made a decision that public acts of sodomy are still prosecutable and we'll stand by that."
In February, the attorney general's office won an appeal filed by Trondell Askew, who was convicted of performing sodomy on a fellow inmate in a prison yard at the Southampton Correctional Center and sentenced to three additional years.
The appeals court ruled that Askew could not object to the constitutionality of the statute in an appeal if his attorney did not first raise the objection during his trial.
Askew's attorney, Richard Railey Jr., said his client was tried and convicted before the Lawrence decision was handed down. He has appealed the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court.
The Virginia Court of Appeals is also deciding whether to hear the appeal of Andy Tjan, who was convicted of propositioning an undercover officer in a Virginia Beach department store bathroom last year.
Tjan, 35, was sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence.
His attorney, James Broccoletti, accused the judge in the case of "legislating" to make the anti-sodomy statute enforceable.
"I think (judges) are stepping in and parceling out the statute and making a legislative decision," he said. "I don't think the courts can read into the statute."
The Virginia General Assembly had several bills before it earlier this year that would have repealed or rewritten the law to conform with the Lawrence decision, but the majority-holding Republicans rebuffed them all.
I'm very grateful to live in a state where the legislature follows its conscience and does what's right instead of trying to placate a bunch of leftists.
What we need, though, is for the Virginia State Police to catch Justice Souder out there at the rest-stop in Manassas. It's gonna' happen ~ eventually!
I have always wanted one of these Constitutional "scholars" to show me where in the Constitution the SCOTUS is empowered to be the arbiter/interpreter of what is and isn't Constitutional. Because logic would dictate it lies within the executive branch's powers. Unfortunately, the Court used Marbury vs. Madison to seize this power and nobody (except Andrew Jackson) ever attempted to stop them.
Is the argument now - since sodomy is a new right - that we can drop trou and have oral sex any ol' where we wanna?
Will we soon have sucking and non-sucking sections in public places?
Homosexual Agenda Ping - Virginia is for Lovers [of truth and morality].
Good one! So the homosexual rights people are saying that PUBLIC sodomy is ok??
Let me know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.
I thought the Supremes said stay out of the bed room.
Does this guy sleep there?
That opinion tells you where the 'scholars' find that "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." There are several arguments in there.
Thank you for posting this.
I am grateful for those who have held the line in VA. Certainly thankful for those who are able to turn back the leanings of our Northern VA mush-heads.
Cannot help but ask the God of mercy to reward these courageous individuals for their proection of the majority of the populace.
Not when The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force gets done running the courts:
In addition, the project will examine laws against public lewdness, "which are routinely misused to persecute and prosecute people who participate in non-traditional forms of sexual expression."
"I've seen firsthand how the misuse of these [public lewdness] laws has ruined the lives of gay and bisexual men," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
If all sodomy is now legal (by privacy, "equal protection" would have permitted the total ban of sodomy on a state by state basis) why isn't prostitution legal? There are no fornication or adultery laws anymore prohibiting sex between unmarried partners. You can pay a babysitter to give unlicensed childcare in your home. It is a sex act between consenting adults.
There was much speculation that President Bush would be nominating 1 or 2 justices during his current administration.
The right of the Federal judiciary to strike down Federal laws that violate the Constitution is inherent in the very concept of the judiciary which was understood as part of the evolution of our jurisprudence during the pre-revolutionary colonial period. See Judicial Supremacy in America: Its Colonial and Constitutional History by R. Carter Pittman (who incidentally was notorious for his defense of States' Rights.)
The real issue here concerns the extent of the Supreme Court's authority in adjudicating between a State and her citizens. Article III, Sect. 2 gives the Federal courts authority over "Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State [Modified by Amendment XI]; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects."
Notice that the Federal courts are nowhere given authority in controversies between a State and citizens of that same State. Once a state citizen has appealed to the State's highest court, there is no further recourse provided under the Constitution. Period.
The Incorporation Doctrine, far more than Marbury v. Madison, is an example of the Supreme Court seizing power over the States totally on its own caprice, with neither the States nor the people having had any say in that matter. Frankly, any attempt to curb the Incorporation Doctrine would be insufficient, even if it could be done. The Fourteenth Amendment must be repealed in toto.
Pressed for a comment, the sodomite defended his actions by stating, "Hey -- would you rather I take my business to Macy's front window?"
Constitutional law just doesn't work the way Kilgore says it does. If a law is found un-Constitutional, the police can't make up their own limited version -- the legislature has to do that (and AFAIK has not done so in Virginia).
To make the point more clearly with an exaggerated hypothetical, suppose that a law is passed prohibiting any discussion of nuclear physics. Someone who sold the secret of the "suitcase nuke" to al-Qaeda is prosecuted under this law. In a different case, the Supreme Court (quite properly) finds this hypothetical law to be an infringement of First Amendment rights. The guy would get off scot-free, unless charged under some other law (such as the real-world laws that specificially address classified information and aid to criminal conspiracies).