Archive for November, 2010


Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

John Geddes Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 55, U.S. Supreme Court 2003.

Facts: In Houston, Texas, police were dispatched to a private residence in response to a reported weapons disturbance. When the police entered the apartment of one of the petitioners, the officers saw the two petitioners, both male, engaging in a sexual act. The sexual act was in violation of Texas law that prohibits deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex. Deviate sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex is a class C misdemeanor in Texas and stays on the violators criminal record.

Procedural History: Harris County Criminal Court found the petitioners guilty. The Court of Appeals for the Texas Fourteenth District affirmed the convictions. Petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court and was granted cert.

Issues: Whether criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in the home violate their vital interests in liberty and privacy protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment thus over-ruling Bowers v. Hardwick.

Holding: yes

Reasoning: Previous Court decisions have established the right to make decisions regarding sexual conduct extends beyond the marital relationship. It is evident to the Court that these statutes would hinder homosexuals ability to make choices central to personal dignity and autonomy because these statutes control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. The claim in Bowers that proscriptions against that conduct have ancient roots is cast in doubt because the concept of the homosexual as a distinct category of person did not emerge until the late 19th century and laws against sodomy were not enforced against consenting adults acting in private but rather against adults and minors. Since these acts define a homosexual’s personhood and autonomy, they should protected by the Due Process Clause.


Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

State v. Mobbley, 650 P.2d 841, Court of Appeals of New Mexico 1982.

Facts: The defendant, Mobbley, was charged with harboring and aiding Andrew Needham knowing he had committed a felony with the intent to escape arrest. When the police came to the defendant’s house, she was harboring two felons, one being her husband and the other being Andrew Needham. When the police asked if they were in the house, she said no. But after hearing noises the police entered and found the two felons. Since the New Mexico harboring and aiding felons statute does not apply to wives and their husbands or close relatives, the defendant is only charged with aiding Needham. However, the defendant claims that she could not have revealed Needham without revealing her husband.

Procedural History: Trial Court dismissed the information. The Court of Appeals of New Mexico reversed the trial court’s decision to dismiss the information and ordered to reinstate the case on the trial court’s docket.

Issue: Whether the defendant is guilty of harboring and aiding a known felon when the harboring of the criminal is done with the expectation to protect her husband which is reasonable according to New Mexico law.

Holding: Yes

Reasoning: Since common law tradition of accessories which later were enacted in New Mexico State only exempt relations of husband or wife, parent or grandparent, child or grandchild, and brother or sister, the relationship between the defendant and Needham is not exempt. Since the language of the statute is clear there is no room for interpretation. Though the defendant was put in a dilemma, to add that additional exemption would to add words to the statute.


Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Gregg v. Georgia 428 U.S. 153. U.S. Supreme Court 1976

Facts: The petitioner, Gregg, was a convicted robber and murderer who was sentenced to death pursuant to a Georgia statute.

Procedural History: Trial Court convicted Gregg and sentenced him to the death penalty. Gregg appealed to every level in Georgia’s judicial system. All affirmed trial court’s decision. Gregg petitioned U.S. Supreme Court and was granted cert.

Issue: Whether the sentence of death for a crime of murder is a per se violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

Holding: No

Reasoning: The death penalty has been used throughout our history and that is evident by the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment stating that capital punishment cannot be used without due process of the law. The standards of decency towards the death penalty has not changed enough because a large proportion of American society continues to regard it as an appropriate and necessary criminal sanction. Since the death penalty serves the two purposes of retribution and deterrence of offensive conduct in which society finds morally outrageous. Since there is penological justification for the death penalty, it cannot result in the gratuitous infliction of suffering.


Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186. U.S. Supreme Court 1986.

Facts: In 1982, Hardwick was charged for violating Georgia’s anti-sodomy statute by committing sodomy with another male in the bedroom of his house. Hardwick challenged the constitutionality of the statute insofar it criminalized consensual sodomy.

Procedural History: Hardwick brought suit to Federal District Court. District Court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s decision. The Attorney General petitioned the Supreme Court and was granted cert.

Issues: Whether the due process clause in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution confers a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy.

Holding: No

Reasoning: In previous cases, the Court has labeled individual rights to marriage, procreation, and family relationships as fundamental rights. Since sodomy has no resemblance to these rights, sodomy is not a constitutionally protected act. Hardwick’s claim that sodomy is deeply rooted in our society is false because sodomy by common law tradition has been illegal before the bill of rights was signed. The claim that the sodomy should have been legal because it occurred because it occurred in the privacy of his own home does not work because if that were to be accepted it would lead to incest, adultery, and other sex crimes to be immune from prosecution.

Wisconsin v. yoder

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, U.S. Supreme Court. (1972)

Facts: Members of the Older Amish religion and the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church were convicted of violating Wisconsin’s compulsory school attendance law. The law states that every child must attend public or private school up to age sixteen. The respondents want to withhold their children from attending school after the eighth grade because secondary schooling conflicts Amish principles that dictate their way of life and provide their salvation.

Procedural History: Trial court denied motion to dismiss the charges. The Wisconsin Circuit Court affirmed the convictions. Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed the convictions. On petition from the State of Wisconsin, the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert.

Issues: Whether the State of Wisconsin’s objective of providing all children with the benefits of secondary schooling regardless of religious affiliation conflicts with the free exercise clause of the first amendment and the traditional right of parents to decide a child’s religious upbringing.

Holding: Yes

Reasoning: The Amish people believe their salvation is dependent on their insulation from the influence of the outside world. Since public and private high schools wish to install principles such as individual competitiveness and subject children to pressures of the outside world, making Amish children attend secondary schooling would hinder the religious upbringing the Amish community values. The religious upbringing of Amish children is very important to the practice of the Amish religion. As a result, Wisconsin’s compulsory secondary schooling law infringes upon the free practice clause of the First Amendment. Also, the states claim that it is empowered, as parens patriae, to provide children secondary regardless of the parents wishes cannot be held by the free exercise clause because there would be no negative effect upon the mental health or physical health of Amish children if they did not attend two years of secondary schooling.