/Lawsuit Sodomy ban ‘unconstitutional’

Lawsuit Sodomy ban ‘unconstitutional’

The plaintiffs, who used the aliases Arthur and Brenda, Carol and Diana, claimed that the state’s antisodomy law infringes the Fourteenth Amendment. It makes consensual anal sex and oral sex illegal. Since 2003’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas (which declared similar anti-sodomy laws in Georgia and Texas unconstitutional), the state’s 74-year old statute has been in conflict with federal law. The ruling also overturned a Georgia 1986 statute that said certain intimate sexual acts were not protected by the Constitution. The plaintiffs’ complaint stated that Mississippi still enforces its criminal statute against sodomy, titled Unnatural Intercourse… by requiring those convicted of Unnatural Intercourse, to register as sex-offenders and follow a multitude of onerous instructions on their daily lives pursuant to Mississippi’s sexual offender registry law. According to the suit, the plaintiffs are suing the state officials responsible for enforcing and upholding the law and the state sex-offender registry. These include Attorney General Jim Hood, Albert Santa Cruz, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Charlie Hill, director of Mississippi Sex Offender Registry, Col. Chris Gillard (chief of the Mississippi Highway Patrol) and Larry Waggoner (director of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation). Attorney General Jim Hood stated that his office would defend constitutionality of the state’s sexual offender registry, but he did not mention the anti-sodomy statute. “Our office will defend our sex offender register. Each case will require a detailed analysis and factual assessment. Hood stated that the registry was a crucial safety tool for Mississippi families. The case names Jim Hood as a defendant. It also shares key players with House Bill 1523, a recent Fourteenth Amendment challenge of state law. Rob McDuff, Matthew Strugar from California and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York are representing the plaintiffs. McDuff was also the attorney in Barber v. Bryant which ultimately overturned the law. The new case will be presided over by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves. Reeves made national headlines with his landmark ruling that struck down House Bill 1523. The plaintiffs argue that the statute is unconstitutional. However, the central issue of contention in this suit is the sex-offender register, which lists each plaintiff. Plaintiffs claim that being registered as a sexual offender, which is a requirement for any person convicted in the state of sex crimes, has been an undue and dangerously stigmatizing burden. This is all in order to serve a law they believe should have been repealed a decade ago. Mississippi’s registered sex offenders must comply with a variety of requirements. This includes notifying their community about their status as sex-offender. They must also register at a Department of Motor Vehicles Office and then re-register every 90 days. They are strictly restricted from having contact with children, no matter what the sexual crime may be. They can’t live within three hundred feet of any school, childcare facility, or recreational facility for children. The Department of Public Safety must approve their attendance at a school function. Arthur Doe was the first plaintiff to be convicted of “crime against humanity with nature” in 1979. This is how the statute defines sodomy. Each of the four female plaintiffs was convicted under a Louisiana statute for solicitation, which made prostitution a registered sex offense. Louisiana removed all persons convicted of prosecution from their sex-offender register in 2013. Mississippi however keeps these registrants on it’s sex-offender registry, despite prostitution being a non-registerable offense in Mississippi. Plaintiffs claim that they have suffered harm by being listed on the registry. Some claim they’ve been attacked. Some others mention losing their homes and jobs.