Liberty Presumes an Autonomy of Self 2003

In Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the right of privacy to homosexual acts. In a 6–3 decision, the justices overturned their 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick ruling and declared state sodomy laws unconstitutional.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy stated, “Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.” The Court argued that laws restricting how gay men and women conduct themselves in private violate the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws.” The dissenting justices disagreed with the Court’s repeal of all sodomy laws. Since they found no fundamental right to consensual sodomy, they argued the power to repeal these laws remains with the voters, not with judges.