Jenner & Block

Firm Files Amicus Brief in Case Challenging Mississippi’s “Unnatural Intercourse” Law

Partner Lindsay C. Harrison and Associate Elliot Tarloff submitted an amicus brief in an important case about whether states may continue to criminally charge and punish persons for same-sex sexual conduct after Lawrence v. Texas.  In Lawrence – successfully argued by Partner Paul M. Smith – the Court invalidated Texas’s ban on sodomy between same-sex partners.  More than a decade after Lawrence, Mississippi still has a sodomy law on the books and is still enforcing that statute by requiring people with Unnatural Intercourse convictions to register as sex offenders.  In Doe v. Hood, the plaintiffs are Mississippi residents who have been charged with sodomy and required to register as sex offenders as a result.  The class action civil rights lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Mississippi's sodomy statute and its ongoing enforcement through the state's sex offender registry.  Filed in the US District Court Southern District of Mississippi Northern Division, the amicus brief supports the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and argues that Lawrence “made clear that all state anti-sodomy laws are invalid.”  It further argues that narrowly enforcing sodomy statutes to only certain plaintiffs or fact patterns is not within the power of the courts and violates separation of powers principles.  The brief is filed on behalf of the DKT Liberty Project, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Mississippi, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.