Essay Sample: Armed Thief Case Description

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  976 Words
Date:  2021-05-20

On September 17, 1988 a neighbor to John Lawrence (a medical technician) reported that there was an armed thief who had entered into Johns apartment. There were commotions inside and the neighbor thought it was an armed robbery and consequently, there was a man with a gun going crazy. The police arrived at Johns apartment and found him together with Tyrone Garner; the two were having a private consensual sex act. Later on, the neighbor admitted that his allegations were false and was consequently convicted of giving false information. That notwithstanding, Lawrence and Garner were arrested because homosexuality was illegal in Texas. As such, both were convicted for breaking the law and fined $200 each. The two decided to appeal using the state court system, and they argued that the law prohibiting homosexuality infringed and contravened their Fourteenth Amendment rights (the amendment forbids the state from restricting the basic rights of citizens). They believed that the law did not grant them equal protection because it allowed sexual acts between heterosexuals but illegalized the same for homosexuals. They argued that the amendment offered protection of the liberty and privacy of everyone, irrespective of their sexual inclinations and that it illegalized the criminalization of any private consensual sex acts in all the states. The Texas Court of Appeal, which is the highest state court for criminal cases, ruled in their favor. They relied on a past ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), where the court had defended the constitutionality of the sodomy law in Georgia.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

The Supreme Court presented three questions to the counsel. First, whether the criminal conviction of John and Garner, found in the Texas Homosexual Conduct law, this prohibited and illegalized sexual acts of gays and lesbians while permitting the same for heterosexuals, infringed the Fourteenth Amendment which gave everyone equal protection to the states laws? Secondly, whether the criminal conviction for mature and full grown mutual consent to engage in sexual acts while in their private homes disregarded their essential rights as stipulated in the Fourteenth Amendment? Lastly, whether the 1986 case of Bowers v. Hardwick should be revoked and repealed?

In December 2, 2002, the Supreme Court decided to hear the case. Lawrence and Garner were represented by the Lambda Legal team (This is an American civil rights group which champions for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) persons) The team presented a total of 16 amicus curiae documents containing all facts and points of law for the case. The Texas legal representatives, like the Liberty Counsel, argued that homosexuals were vulnerable to STIs and STDs, licentious and immoral and that gay sodomy had extreme corporeal, psychic, mental and spiritual repercussions and ramifications.

On March 26, 2003, there was an oral argument at the Supreme Court. Lawrence and Garner were represented by Paul Smith who was a barrister. He had experienced having argued 8 cases prior to this one. John Cornyn, who was the Texas Attorney General, declined to give reasons or cite evidence in support of the ruling. Therefore, Charles Rosenthal, who was a District Attorney of Harris County, was given the mandate of representing Texas State. He produced one of the worst oral arguments.

It was on June 26, 2003 that the court issued its own verdict. It was a 6-3 ruling which invalidated the Texas ruling. A total of 5 jurists said that the ruling went against fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen's entitlement. The sixth jurist said that the ruling breached the Fourteenth Amendment which stipulated that states guarantee the same rights, privileges, and protections to all citizens. The ruling by the five judges nullified Bowers v. Hardwick and disapproved of other laws which prohibited homosexuality in thirteen other states.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was the author of the Courts opinion, said, It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter [This case does not involve minors or people paying for sex but rather] two adults who with full and mutual consent engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle. [They] are entitled to respect for their private lives. The state cannot demean their existence by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Ruth Harlow, who was the leading attorney for the Lambda team said that, the court admitted its mistake in 1986, admitted it had been wrong then...and emphasized today that gay Americans, like all Americans, are entitled to full respect and equal claim to [all] constitutional rights."

However, the disagreeing judges pointed out that the Supremes Court decision to invalidate a states authority and mandate in setting rules which set accepted standards of conduct was utterly wrong. From this point of view, forbidding and banning such behavior was a rational effect of democracy and not an act of unjust or prejudicial treatment on the grounds of sex. Critics pointed out that the decision would promote gay marriage; a practice which damages and weakens family values. In addition to that, they said the decision would be a stumbling block to the military's ban on open homosexual behavior. Justice Byron White, went ahead to say, Against a background in which many States have criminalized sodomy and still do, to claim that a right to engage in such conduct is deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition or implicit in the concept of ordered liberty is, at best, facetious.


Lawrence v. Texas case brief summary. Retrieved from v. Texas (2003). Retrieved from v. Texas. Retrieved from, D. (n.d.) Lawrence v. Texas: An historic human rights victory. Retrieved from v. Texas, five years later. Retrieved from

Cite this page

Essay Sample: Armed Thief Case Description. (2021, May 20). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism