Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 5 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court. Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places. In our tradition the State is not omnipresent in the home. And there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the home, where the State should not be a dominant presence. Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct. The instant case involves liberty of the person both in its spatial and in its more transcendent dimensions.


The question before the Court is the validity of a Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct.

In Houston, Texas, officers of the Harris County Police Department were dispatched to a private residence in response to a reported weapons disturbance. They entered an apartment where one of the petitioners, John Geddes Lawrence,

for the Original Intent of the Constitution by Michael P. Farris and Jordan W. Lorence; for Concerned Women for America by Janet M. LaRue; for the Family Research Council, Inc., by Robert P. George; for First Principles, Inc., by Ronald D. Ray; for Liberty Counsel by Mathew D. Staver and Rena M. Lindevaldsen; for the Pro Family Law Center et al. by Richard D. Ackerman and Gary G. Kreep; for Public Advocate of the United States et al. by Herbert W. Titus and William J. Olson; for the Texas Eagle Forum et al. by Teresa Stanton Collett; for Texas Legislator Warren Chisum et al. by Kelly Shackelford and Scott Roberts; for the Texas Physicians Resource Council et al. by Glen Lavy; and for United Families International by Paul Benjamin Linton.

Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the American Bar Association by Alfred P. Carlton, Jr., Ruth N. Borenstein, and Beth S. Brinkmann; for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by Laurence H. Tribe, James D. Esseks, Steven R. Shapiro, and Matthew A. Coles; for the Institute for Justice by William H. Mellor, Clint Bolick, Dana Berliner, and Randy E. Barnett; and for the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association et al. by Chai R. Feldblum, J. Paul Oetken, and Scott Ruskay-Kidd.

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