Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Slippery Slope

Maybe not the best title choice.  Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) was a landmark Supreme Court decision, striking down a state law prohibiting doctors from providing contraceptives to married couples.  There were cynics who suggested it could lead to the scrapping of all laws regulating sexual morality, Justice Goldberg's concurring opinion argues that this decision does not affect other such laws.
Finally, it should be said of the Court's holding today that it in no way interferes with a State's proper regulation [381 U.S. 479, 499]   of sexual promiscuity or misconduct. As my Brother HARLAN so well stated in his dissenting opinion in Poe v. Ullman, supra, at 553.

"Adultery, homosexuality and the like are sexual intimacies which the State forbids . . . but the intimacy of husband and wife is necessarily an essential and accepted feature of the institution of marriage, an institution which the State not only must allow, but which always and in every age it has fostered and protected. It is one thing when the State exerts its power either to forbid extra-marital sexuality . . . or to say who may marry, but it is quite another when, having acknowledged a marriage and the intimacies inherent in it, it undertakes to regulate by means of the criminal law the details of that intimacy."

Of course, Griswold led to Roe v. Wade (1973) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and now this suit:
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch — and, by extension, the county’s law enforcement community — has been drawn into a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the California law criminalizing prostitution. 

Ravitch and three other Northern California district attorneys, as well as state Attorney General Kamala Harris, are named as defendants in the U.S. District Court case, which argues, in part, that the 14th Amendment protects individual liberty over private sexual conduct, regardless of whether it’s paid for. 

The suit reflects recent case law and rulings that limit government interference in personal decisions involving sex, including the landmark 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, in which the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated laws prohibiting sex between same-sex couples. 

“This, as a general rule, should counsel against attempts by the State, or a court, to define the meaning of the relationship or to set its boundaries absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects,” the ruling states.
I am not sympathetic to prostitution laws, but defining this as a right under the 14th Amendment just shows what happens when the slope is slippery enough.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

Liberals won't decide that prostitution is constitutionally protected, because they won't want to limit their ability to ban or regulate capitalist acts between consenting adults.