Cuccinelli Appeals To Highest Court over Sodomy Laws on Lawrence V. Texas 10-Year-Anniversary
Virginia Attorney General, and Gubernatorial Candidate, Ken Cuccinelli asked the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a lower courts overturning of Virginia’s anti-sodomy laws on Tuesday. This request comes from Cuccinelli within days of the ten-year anniversary of the land mark Lawrence V. Texas case that declared sodomy laws unconstitutional nationwide at the federal level.
“The Fourth Circuit’s decision threatens to undo convictions of child predators that were obtained under this law after 2003. It also takes away an important tool that prosecutors use to put child molesters in jail,” said Cuccinelli in a statement released earlier this week. The Virgina AG goes on to say that repealing the law would take 90 sex offenders off the states sex offender registry.
Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire told the AP that repealing the state’s sodomy law would endanger his ability to charge internet child-sex predators. “I’m completely worried about this… Something has to happen or its open season on Virginia’s children.”
Other states have specific laws that handle these kind of online predatory issues, and Gregory R. Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal, said it was the legislature’s responsibility to pass a new law to fix the problem.
“When (the VA General Assembly) pass a law that provides the kind of protections they need, and is consistent and doesn’t raise any suspicious differences that it’s targeting specific communities, it will get held, and it wont be a problem,” said Nevins.
Although Cuccinelli is attempting to bring this law back, Nevins went on to suggest it was actually Cuccienlli’s job, as the state’s Attorney General, to help the legislature fix the problem. “They’ve had 10 years to do this, but instead Cuccinelli is focused on a law that can’t be saved.”
The appeal was filed Tuesday of this week, June 25th, the historic Supreme Court decision on Lawrence V. Texas, which ruled sodomy laws unconstitutional, was released on June 26th, 2003. When this anniversary was mentioned to Nevins, he admitted it was something that hadn’t even crossed his mind. “Cuccinelli is still fighting this battle, most people have moved on and realized these laws are no good… It doesn’t speak well for someone who is trying to get a promotion, that they can’t handle simple problems with plain solutions and they are still fighting culture wars that have been buried for years.”
Virginia’s sodomy laws had remained intact despite the federal ruling, and the Commonwealth had continued to charge individuals under sodomy laws in cases where people were having sex with minors, or soliciting sex in public. When challenged, the Virginia courts said those cases had no standing to challenge the law because the specifics of the 2003 Lawrence V. Texas dealt with consenting adults in private space, and not with minors or in public.
The case that sparked the overturning of Virginia’s sodomy law involved William MacDonald being charged with sodomy after engaging in sex acts with two girls aged 16 and 17. MacDonald challenged his sodomy charge, and the 4th Circuit ruled in his favor in March of this year, striking down the state’s sodomy laws in a 2-1 decision. Cuccinelli filed the for an en banc hearing, but that appeal was dismissed.
Tuesday was the deadline for making it known to the federal district court what the state’s intentions were. Considering the upcoming 2013 election, and Cuccinelli’s bid for governor, many are watching to see if SCOTUS will even take up the case, or dismiss the appeal like the 4th circuit court did. Nevins said he hopes the higher court will follow suit. “I hope that this [proposed legislation] is denied without comment.”
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