The New American, Vol. 19, No. 17 August 25, 2003
Lawrences Immoral Consequences
In his dissenting opinion in the Lawrence v. Texas decision overturning a Texas anti-sodomy law, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia presciently warned that the reasoning applied in that decision imperils all state laws against obscenity, incest, adultery, and other evils. The ink was hardly dry on the decision before Scalias warning was vindicated.
In late July, attorney H. Louis Sirkin, who often represents pornographer Larry Flynt, demanded that a Cincinnati judge overturn a city anti-pornography law. "The case involves the sale of a video so explicit that some members of the jury had to avert their eyes," reports Focus on the Familys Family News in Focus. Sirkin told the publication that the Lawrence decision brings "into question obscenity laws, prostitution laws and such things as that.... Legislative bodies are not to legislate morality."
Lawrence has also been invoked by polygamist Rodney Holm of Hilldale, Utah. Holm has had 21 children with three wives and has been charged with bigamy and two counts of unlawful sex with a 16-year-old girl whom he claims as a "spiritual" wife. In the motion to dismiss, Holms attorney, Rodney Parker, cites the Lawrence opinion to buttress the claim that "the national social order in the United States does not compel a conclusion that plural marriage [e.g., polygamy] is against public policy, especially when considered in light of emerging lifestyles."
The legitimate issue is whether states and local governments will continue to exercise their reserved constitutional powers to legislate on moral issues.