The rule of Lawrence

Andrew Koppelman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The statute challenged in Lawrence criminalized all homosexual sex. The Lawrence Court quotes with approval Justice Stevens’s claim in his Bowers v. Hardwick dissent that “the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice.” The Lawrence Court does not say that the state interest has no weight but only that it lacks sufficient weight to justify the burden it places on individual liberty. Lawrence is full of language that indicates that the Court is concerned with the subordination of gays as a group, rather than just the liberty of individuals. Lawrence was to be resolved “by determining whether the petitioners were free as adults to engage in the private conduct in the exercise of their liberty under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Future of Gay Rights in America
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781135422646
ISBN (Print)9780415950770
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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