Now Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Republican Attorney General and the party’s candidate for governor in November, has filed a petition asking the entire Court to revisit its decision to overturn this state law prohibiting sodomy.
But wait! Didn’t the Supreme Court in the famous Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003 hold that sodomy laws violate a person’s right to privacy?
In fact, the court’s action did not actually take the laws off the books, but rather renders them unconstitutional to be enforced. Few states have repealed the laws since then, which is why Virginia still has that prohibition on its books.
That’s how Cuccinelli is able to ask the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to agree with him and uphold the constitutionality of Virginia’s sodomy law, which makes anal and oral sex between people of any sex a crime. (The question remains as to why Virginia’s Attorney General wants to involve himself so thoroughly in what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms.)
More details on the case involved from rawstory:
The Washington Blade reported on Wednesday that Cuccinelli’s petition, filed on March 26 calls for an en banc hearing involving all 15 judges on the court to reconsider the March 12 ruling by a three-judge panel declaring the “Crimes Against Nature” law unconstitutional.
The law, which prohibited oral and anal sex, was deemed unconstitutional in a 2005 case involving a 47-year-old defendant, William Scott MacDonald, accused of asking a 17-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him. According to Buzzfeed, despite the girl rebuffing his advances, MacDonald told authorities she did so “against his will.” MacDonald was eventually convicted of soliciting a minor in an attempt to break the sodomy law.
Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” statute, or sodomy law, reads:
“If any person . . . carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or vol- untarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a [felony.]”
However, the three-judge panel ruled in a 2-1 decision on the MacDonald case that the law was unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas.
Ken Cuccinelli believes this was the wrong decision, in part because the girl was only 17.
From raw story:
“We believe the panel decision was erroneous, and that the dissent correctly concludes that the petitioner was not entitled to federal habeas corpus relief,” Gibson (a spokesperson for Cuccineli) said. “So the full court should have the opportunity to decide this matter.”
If you are familiar with Ken Cuccinelli’s past actions, you may not find this action so surprising.
Last summer the Virginia Attorney General refused to certify regulations from the Virginia Board of Health that would allow existing abortion clinics in the state to stay open. Virginia is also one of the states with an invasive ultrasound law, meaning women in the state have to get a medically unnecessary procedure and wait 24 hours before they can get a (legal, constitutionally protected) abortion.
If you google his name, you’ll find some of these headlines: “Ken Cuccinelli’s climate-change witch hunt,” “Virginia attorney general to colleges: End gay protections,” and “After breast controversy, Cuccinelli ditches new staffer lapel pins.”
More recently, a video has surfaced in which Cuccinelli compares the anti-abortion movement to the abolitionist movement. Even some Republicans are beginning to worry about his bid for governor.
So perhaps it’s not so surprising that the Virginia Attorney General should come up with this opinion on sodomy.
However, given that the Supreme Court ruled ten years ago that gay sex is okay and has now moved on to the question of gay marriage, this appeal will probably not get too far.
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Photo Credit: virginia.gov