The Lottawanna :: 88 U.S. () :: Justia US Supreme Court Center
The Lottawanna. 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) Syllabus. 1. Whilst the general maritime rule herein to be different from that where the repairs or necessaries are. , state liability see also damages administrative remedies causal link , , , substantive , , superior rule breached , . radical agent-oriented process / agent-object-relationship (RAP/AOR) (C2) rule engines and rules (B2) rule interchange format (RIF) 4, Rule.
In this respect, it is like international law or the laws of war, which have the effect of law in no country any further than they are accepted and received as such, or, like the case of the civil law, which forms the basis of most European laws but which has the force of law in each state only so far as it is adopted therein and with such modifications as are deemed expedient.
The adoption of the common law by the several states of this Union also presents an analogous case. It is the basis of all the state laws, but is modified as each sees fit.
Perhaps the maritime law is more uniformly followed by commercial nations than the civil and common laws are by those who use them.
But, like those laws, however fixed, definite, and beneficial the theoretical code of maritime law may be, it can have only so far the effect of law in any country as it is permitted to have. But the actual maritime law can hardly be said to have a fixed and definite form as to all the subjects which may be embraced within its scope.
Whilst it is true that the great mass of maritime law is the same in all commercial countries, yet in each country peculiarities exist either as to some of the rules or in the mode of enforcing them. Especially is this the case on the outside boundaries of the law, where it comes in contact with, or shades off into the local or municipal law of the particular country and affects only its own merchants or people in their relations to each other.
Whereas, in matters affecting the stranger or foreigner, the commonly received law of the whole commercial world is more assiduously observed -- as in justice it should be. No one doubts that every nation may adopt its own maritime code.How to Find Your Partner and Keep Your Relationship Strong with Stephan Speaks and Lewis Howes
France may adopt one; England another; the United States a third; still, the convenience of the commercial world, bound together, as it is, by mutual relations of trade and intercourse, demands that in all essential things wherein those relations bring them in contact, there should be a uniform law founded on natural reason and justice.
Hence the adoption Page 88 U. But no nation regards itself as precluded from making occasional modifications suited to its locality and the genius of its own people and institutions, especially in matters that are of merely local and municipal consequence and do not affect other nations. It will be found, therefore, that the maritime codes of France, England, Sweden, and other countries, are not one and the same in every particular, but that whilst there is a general correspondence between them arising from the fact that each adopts the essential principles and the great mass of the general maritime law as the basis of its system, there are varying shades of difference corresponding to the respective territories, climate, and genius of the people of each country respectively.
Each state adopts the maritime law not as a code having any independent or inherent force proprio vigore, but as its own law, with such modifications and qualifications as it sees fit. Thus adopted and thus qualified in each case, it becomes the maritime law of the particular nation that adopts it. And without such voluntary adoption it would not be law.
And thus it happens that, from the general practice of commercial nations in making the same general law the basis and groundwork of their respective maritime systems, the great mass of maritime law which is thus received by these nations in common comes to be the common maritime law of the world.
This account of the maritime law, if correct, plainly shows that in particular matters, especially such as approach a merely municipal character, the received maritime law may differ in different countries without affecting the general integrity of the system as a harmonious whole.
The government of one country may be willing to give to its citizens, who supply a ship with provisions at her home port where the owner himself resides, a lien on the ship, whilst that of another country may take a contrary view as to the expediency of such a rule. The difference between them in a matter that concerns only their own citizens in each case Page 88 U. This view of the subject does not in the slightest degree detract from the proper authority and respect due to that venerable law of the sea, which has been the subject of such high encomiums from the ablest jurists of all countries; it merely places it upon the just and logical grounds upon which it is accepted, and with proper qualifications received with the binding force of law in all countries.
The proposition, therefore, that by the general maritime law a lien is given in cases of the kind now under consideration does not advance the argument a single step unless it be shown to be in accordance with the maritime law as accepted and received in the United States.
It certainly has not been the maritime law of England for more than two centuries past, and whether it is the maritime law of this country depends upon questions which are not answered by simply turning to the ordinary European treatises on maritime law, or the codes or ordinances of any particular country.
That we have a maritime law of our own, operative throughout the United States, cannot be doubted. The general system of maritime law which was familiar to the lawyers and statesmen of the country when the Constitution was adopted was most certainly intended and referred to when it was declared in that instrument that the judicial power of the United States shall extend "to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.
The Constitution does not define it. It does not declare whether it was intended to embrace the entire maritime law as expounded in the treatises, or only the limited and restricted system which was received in England, or lastly such modification of both of these as was accepted and recognized as law in this country.
Nor does the Constitution attempt to draw the boundary line between maritime law and local law; nor does it lay down any criterion for ascertaining that boundary. It assumes that the meaning Page 88 U. It treats this matter as it does the cognate ones of common law and equity, when it speaks of "cases in law and equity," or of "suits at common law" without defining those terms, assuming them to be known and understood. One thing, however, is unquestionable: It certainly could not have been the intention to place the rules and limits of maritime law under the disposal and regulation of the several states, as that would have defeated the uniformity and consistency at which the Constitution aimed on all subjects of a commercial character affecting the intercourse of the states with each other or with foreign states.
The question is discussed with great felicity and judgment by Chief Justice Taney, delivering the opinion of the Court in the case of The St.
Lawrence, [ Footnote 6 ] where he says: This difficulty was increased by the complex character of our government, where separate and distinct specified powers of sovereignty are exercised by the United States and a state independently of each other within the same territorial limits.
And the reports of the decisions of the court will show that the subject has often been before it, and carefully considered, without being able to fix with precision its definite boundaries; but certainly no state law can enlarge Page 88 U.
And this boundary is to be ascertained by a reasonable and just construction of the words used in the Constitution, taken in connection with the whole instrument and the purposes for which admiralty and maritime jurisdiction was granted to the federal government.
The question as to the true limits of maritime law and admiralty jurisdiction is undoubtedly, as Chief Justice Taney intimates, exclusively a judicial question, and no state law or act of Congress can make it broader or it may be added narrower than the judicial power may determine those limits to be.
But what the law is within those limits, assuming the general maritime law to be the basis of the system, depends on what has been received as law in the maritime usages of this country, and on such legislation as may have been competent to affect it.
To ascertain, therefore, what the maritime law of this country is, it is not enough to read the French, German, Italian, and other foreign works on the subject, or the codes which they have framed, but we must have regard to our own legal history, constitution, legislation, usages, and adjudications as well. The decisions of this Court illustrative of these sources, and giving construction to the laws and Constitution are especially to be considered, and when these fail us, we must resort to the principles by which they have been governed.
But we must always remember that the court cannot Page 88 U. It cannot be supposed that the framers of the Constitution contemplated that the law should forever remain unalterable.
Congress undoubtedly has authority under the commercial power, if no other, to introduce such changes as are likely to be needed. The scope of the maritime law and that of commercial regulation are not coterminous, it is true, but the latter embraces much the largest portion of ground covered by the former. Under it, Congress has regulated the registry, enrolment, license, and nationality of ships and vessels, the method of recording bills of sale and mortgages thereon, the rights and duties of seamen, the limitations of the responsibility of shipowners for the negligence and misconduct of their captains and crews, and many other things of a character truly maritime.
And with regard to the question now under consideration -- namely the rights of materialmen in reference to supplies and repairs furnished to a vessel in her home port -- there does not seem to be any great reason to doubt that Congress might adopt a uniform rule for the whole country, though of course this will be a matter for consideration should the question ever be directly presented for adjudication.
On this subject, the remarks of Mr. Justice Nelson, in delivering the opinion of the Court in White's Bank v. Smith [ Footnote 7 ] which established the validity and effect of the act respecting the recording of mortgages on vessels in the customhouseare pertinent. None can be denominated such or be entitled to the benefits or privileges thereof except those registered or enrolled according to the Act of September 1,and those which, after the last day of March,shall be registered or enrolled in pursuance of the Act of 31st December,and must be wholly owned by a citizen or citizens of the United Page 88 U.
Congress having created, as it were, this species of property, and conferred upon it its chief value under the power given in the Constitution to regulate commerce, we perceive no reason for entertaining any serious doubt but that this power may be extended to the security and protection of the rights and title of all persons dealing therein.
The judicial mind seems to have generally taken this direction. And according to the maritime law as accepted and received in this country, we feel bound to declare that no such lien exists as is claimed by the appellees in this case.
The adjudications in this Court before referred to, which it is unnecessary to review, are conclusive on the subject, and we see no sufficient ground for disturbing them. This disposes of the principal question in the case. But it is alleged by the appellees that by the law of Louisiana they have a privilege for their claims, giving them a lien on the vessel and her proceeds, and that the court was bound to enforce this lien in their behalf, though not strictly a maritime lien.
On examining the record, however, it appears that the appellees never caused their lien if they had one to be recorded according to the requirements of the state law.
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By the one hundred and twenty-third article of the Constitution of Louisiana, adopted init is declared that no "mortgage or privilege shall hereafter affect third parties unless recorded in the parish where the property to be affected is situated. And a further act provides that if the privilege be not in writing, the facts on which it is based must be stated in an Page 88 U. But if there were any doubt on this subject, the case of the appellees is met by another difficulty.
The admiralty rule ofwhich precluded the district courts from entertaining proceedings in rem against domestic ships for supplies, repairs, or other necessaries, was in force until May 6,when the new rule was promulgated. Now this case was commenced in the district court a year previous to this, and final judgment in the district court was rendered two months previous. It is true that the judgment of the circuit court, on appeal, was not rendered until the 3d day of June,but if the new rule had at that time been brought to the attention of the court, it could hardly have been applied to the case in its then position.
All the proceedings had been based and shaped upon other grounds and theories, and not upon the existence of that rule. It would not have been just to the other parties to apply to them a rule which was not in existence when they were carrying on the litigation. As to the recent change in the admiralty rule referred to, it is sufficient to say that it was simply intended to remove all obstructions and embarrassments in the way of instituting proceedings in rem in all cases where liens exist by law, and not to create any new lien, which, of course, this Court could not do in any event, since a lien is a right of property, and not a mere matter of procedure.
Had the lien been perfected, and had the rule not stood in the way, the principles that have heretofore governed the practice of the district courts exercising admiralty jurisdiction, and which have been repeatedly sanctioned by this Court, would undoubtedly have authorized the materialmen to file a libel against the vessel or its proceeds.
State laws, it is true, cannot exclude the contract for furnishing such necessaries from the domain of admiralty jurisdiction, for it is a maritime contract, and they cannot alter the limits of that jurisdiction; nor can they confer it upon the state courts so as to enable them to proceed in rem for the enforcement of liens created by such state laws, for it is exclusively conferred upon the district courts of the United States.
Petitioners' right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in private conduct without government intervention. Casey, supra, at The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the individual's personal and private life. Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places.
In our tradition the State is not omnipresent in the home. And there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the home, where the State should not be a dominant presence. Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.
The Lottawanna, 88 U.S. 558 (1874)
The instant case involves liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions. I The question before the Court is the validity of a Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct.
In Houston, Texas, officers of the Harris County Police Department were dispatched to a private residence in response to a reported weapons disturbance. They entered an apartment where one of the petitioners, John Geddes Lawrence,  resided.
The right of the police to enter does not seem to have been questioned. The officers observed Lawrence and another man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a sexual act. The two petitioners were arrested, held in custody over night, and charged and convicted before a Justice of the Peace. The complaints described their crime as "deviate sexual intercourse, namely anal sex, with a member of the same sex man. The applicable state law is Tex. The petitioners exercised their right to a trial de novo in Harris County Criminal Court.
They challenged the statute as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and of a like provision of the Texas Constitution. Those contentions were rejected. After hearing the case en banc the court, in a divided opinion, rejected the constitutional arguments and affirmed the convictions. The majority opinion indicates that the Court of Appeals considered our decision in Bowers v.
Bowers then being authoritative, this was proper. Whether Petitioners' criminal convictions under the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law--which criminalizes sexual intimacy by same-sex couples, but not identical behavior by different-sex couples--violate the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of laws?
Whether Petitioners' criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in the home violate their vital interests in liberty and privacy protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? The petitioners were adults at the time of the alleged offense. Their conduct was in private and consensual. II We conclude the case should 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.
For this inquiry we deem it necessary to reconsider the Court's holding in Bowers. There are broad statements of the substantive reach of liberty under the Due Process Clause in earlier cases, including Pierce v. Society of Sisters, U. In Griswold the Court invalidated a state law prohibiting the use of drugs or devices of contraception and counseling or aiding and abetting the use of contraceptives. The Court described the protected interest as a right to privacy and placed  emphasis on the marriage relation and the protected space of the marital bedroom.
After Griswold it was established that the right to make certain decisions regarding sexual conduct extends beyond the marital relationship.
The case was decided under the Equal Protection Clause, id. It quoted from the statement of the Court of Appeals finding the law to be in conflict with fundamental human rights, and it followed with this statement of its own: If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.
The opinions in Griswold and Eisenstadt were part of the background for the decision in Roe v. As is well known, the case involved a challenge to the Texas law prohibiting abortions, but the laws of other States were affected as well.
Although the Court held the woman's rights were not absolute, her right to elect an abortion did have real and substantial protection as an exercise of her liberty under the Due Process Clause. The Court cited cases that protect spatial freedom and cases that go well beyond it. Roe recognized the right of a woman to make certain fundamental decisions affecting her destiny and confirmed once more that the protection of liberty under the Due Process Clause has a substantive dimension of fundamental significance in defining the rights of the person.
Population Services Int'l, U. Although there was no single opinion for the Court, the law was invalidated. Both Eisenstadt and Carey, as well as the holding and rationale in Roe, confirmed that the reasoning of Griswold could not be confined to the protection of rights of married adults. This was the state of the law with respect to some of the most relevant cases when the Court considered Bowers v.
The facts in Bowers had some similarities to the instant case. A police officer, whose right to enter seems not to have been in question, observed Hardwick, in his own bedroom, engaging in intimate sexual conduct with another adult male. The conduct was in violation of a Georgia statute making it a criminal offense to engage in sodomy.
One difference between the two cases is that the Georgia statute prohibited the conduct whether or not the participants were of the same sex, while the Texas statute, as we have seen, applies only to participants of the same sex. Hardwick was not prosecuted, but he brought an action in federal court to declare the state statute invalid.
He alleged he was a practicing homosexual and that the criminal prohibition violated rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution. The Court, in an opinion by Justice White, sustained the Georgia law. Chief Justice Burger and Justice Powell joined the opinion of the Court and filed separate, concurring opinions. The Court began its substantive discussion in Bowers as follows: That statement, we now conclude, discloses the Court's own failure to appreciate the extent of the liberty at stake.
To say that the issue in Bowers was simply the right to engage in certain sexual conduct demeans the claim the individual put forward, just as it would demean a married couple were it to be said marriage is simply about the right to have sexual intercourse.
The laws involved in Bowers and here are, to be sure, statutes that purport to do no more than prohibit a particular sexual act. Their penalties and purposes, though, have more far-reaching consequences, touching upon the most private human conduct, sexual behavior, and in the most private of places, the home. The statutes do seek to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals.
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. It suffices for us to acknowledge that adults may choose to enter upon this relationship in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons. When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring.
The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice.
Having misapprehended the claim of liberty there presented to it, and thus stating the claim to be whether there is a fundamental right to engage in consensual sodomy, the Bowers Court said: In academic writings, and in many of the scholarly amicus briefs filed to assist the Court in this case, there are fundamental criticisms of the historical premises relied upon by the majority and concurring opin-  ions in Bowers.
We need not enter this debate in the attempt to reach a definitive historical judgment, but the following considerations counsel against adopting the definitive conclusions upon which Bowers placed such reliance. At the outset it should be noted that there is no longstanding history in this country of laws directed at homosexual conduct as a distinct matter. Beginning in colonial times there were prohibitions of sodomy derived from the English criminal laws passed in the first instance by the Reformation Parliament of The English prohibition was understood to include relations between men and women as well as relations between men and men.
Nineteenth-century commentators similarly read American sodomy, buggery, and crime-against-nature statutes as criminalizing certain relations between men and women and between men and men. Chitty, Criminal Law 5th Am. The absence of legal prohibitions focusing on homosexual conduct may be explained in part by noting that according to some scholars the concept of the homosexual as a distinct category of person did not emerge until the late 19th century. Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality 10 ; J.
A History of Sexuality in America 2d ed. Thus early American sodomy laws were not directed at homosexuals as such but instead sought to prohibit nonprocreative sexual activity more generally. This does not suggest approval of  homosexual conduct. It does tend to show that this particular form of conduct was not thought of as a separate category from like conduct between heterosexual persons.
Laws prohibiting sodomy do not seem to have been enforced against consenting adults acting in private. A substantial number of sodomy prosecutions and convictions for which there are surviving records were for predatory acts against those who could not or did not consent, as in the case of a minor or the victim of an assault.
As to these, one purpose for the prohibitions was to ensure there would be no lack of coverage if a predator committed a sexual assault that did not constitute rape as defined by the criminal law. Thus the model sodomy indictments presented in a 19th-century treatise, see 2 Chitty, supra, at 49, addressed the predatory acts of an adult man against a minor girl or minor boy.
Instead of targeting relations between consenting adults in private, 19th-century sodomy prosecutions typically involved relations between men and minor girls or minor boys, relations between adults involving force, relations between adults implicating disparity in status, or relations between men and animals. To the extent that there were any prosecutions for the acts in question, 19th-century evidence rules imposed a burden that would make a conviction more difficult to obtain even taking into account the problems always inherent in prosecuting consensual acts committed in private.
Under then-prevailing standards, a man could not be convicted of sodomy based upon testimony of a consenting partner, because the partner was considered an accomplice. A partner's testimony, however, was admissible if he or she had not consented to the act or was a minor, and therefore incapable of consent.
Wharton, Criminal Law 2d ed. Wharton, Criminal Law 8th ed. The rule may explain in part the infrequency of these prosecutions.
Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)
In all events that infrequency makes it difficult to say that society approved of a rigorous and systematic  punishment of the consensual acts committed in private and by adults.
The longstanding criminal prohibition of homosexual sodomy upon which the Bowers decision placed such reliance is as consistent with a general condemnation of nonprocreative sex as it is with an established tradition of prosecuting acts because of their homosexual character.
The policy of punishing consenting adults for private acts was not much discussed in the early legal literature. We can infer that one reason for this was the very private nature of the conduct.
Despite the absence of prosecutions, there may have been periods in which there was public criticism of homosexuals as such and an insistence that the criminal laws be enforced to discourage their practices. But far from possessing "ancient roots," Bowers, U. The reported decisions concerning the prosecution of consensual, homosexual sodomy between adults for the years are not always clear in the details, but a significant number involved conduct in a public place. It was not until the 's that any State singled out same-sex relations for criminal prosecution, and only nine States have done so.
Post-Bowers even some of these States did not adhere to the policy of suppressing homosexual conduct. Over the course of the last decades, States with same-sex prohibitions have moved toward abolishing them.
Wasson,  S. In summary, the historical grounds relied upon in Bowers are more complex than the majority opinion and the concurring opinion by Chief Justice Burger indicate. Their historical premises are not without doubt and, at the very least, are overstated. It must be acknowledged, of course, that the Court in Bowers was making the broader point that for centuries there have been powerful voices to condemn homosexual conduct as immoral.
The condemnation has been shaped by religious beliefs, conceptions of right and acceptable behavior, and respect for the traditional family. For many persons these are not trivial concerns but profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles to which they aspire and which thus determine the course of their lives. These considerations do not answer the question before us, however.
The issue is whether the majority may use the power of the State to enforce these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law. Chief Justice Burger joined the opinion for the Court in Bowers and further explained his views as follows: Condemnation of those practices is firmly rooted in Judeao-Christian moral and ethical standards. As with Justice White's assumptions about history, scholarship casts some doubt on the sweeping nature of the statement by Chief Justice Burger as it pertains to private homosexual conduct between consenting adults.
In all events we think that our laws and traditions in the past half century are of  most relevance here.
These references show an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex. This emerging recognition should have been apparent when Bowers was decided. In the American Law Institute promulgated the Model Penal Code and made clear that it did not recommend or provide for "criminal penalties for consensual sexual relations conducted in private.
It justified its decision on three grounds: In Illinois changed its laws to conform to the Model Penal Code. Other States soon followed. Brief for Cato Institute as Amicus Curiae In Bowers the Court referred to the fact that before all 50 States had outlawed sodomy, and that at the time of the Court's decision 24 States and the District of Columbia had sodomy laws. Justice Powell pointed out that these prohibitions often were being ignored, however. Georgia, for instance, had not sought to enforce its law for decades.
The sweeping references by Chief Justice Burger to the history of Western civilization and to Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards did not take account of other authorities pointing in an opposite direction. A committee advising the British Parliament recommended in repeal of laws  punishing homosexual conduct. Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offenses and Prostitution Parliament enacted the substance of those recommendations 10 years later.
Of even more importance, almost five years before Bowers was decided the European Court of Human Rights considered a case with parallels to Bowers and to today's case. An adult male resident in Northern Ireland alleged he was a practicing homosexual who desired to engage in consensual homosexual conduct.
The laws of Northern Ireland forbade him that right. He alleged that he had been questioned, his home had been searched, and he feared criminal prosecution. The court held that the laws proscribing the conduct were invalid under the European Convention on Human Rights. United Kingdom, 45 Eur. Authoritative in all countries that are members of the Council of Europe 21 nations then, 45 nations nowthe decision is at odds with the premise in Bowers that the claim put forward was insubstantial in our Western civilization.
In our own constitutional system the deficiencies in Bowers became even more apparent in the years following its announcement. The 25 States with laws prohibiting the relevant conduct referenced in the Bowers decision are reduced now to 13, of which 4 enforce their laws only against homosexual conduct. In those States where sodomy is still proscribed, whether for same-sex or heterosexual conduct, there is a pattern of nonenforcement with respect to consenting adults acting in private.
The State of Texas admitted in that as of that date it had not prosecuted anyone under those circumstances. Two principal cases decided after Bowers cast its holding into even more doubt. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. The Casey decision again confirmed  that our laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education.
In explaining the respect the Constitution demands for the autonomy of the person in making these choices, we stated as follows: At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.
Persons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do. The decision in Bowers would deny them this right. The second post-Bowers case of principal relevance is Romer v. There the Court struck down class-based legislation directed at homosexuals as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
Romer invalidated an amendment to Colorado's constitution which named as a solitary class persons who were homosexuals, lesbians, or bisexual either by "orientation, conduct, practices or relationships," id. We concluded that the provision was "born of animosity toward the class of persons affected" and further that it had no rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose. As an alternative argument in this case, counsel for the petitioners and some amici contend that Romer provides the basis for declaring the Texas statute invalid under the Equal Protection Clause.
That is a tenable argument, but we con-  clude the instant case requires us to address whether Bowers itself has continuing validity. Were we to hold the statute invalid under the Equal Protection Clause some might question whether a prohibition would be valid if drawn differently, say, to prohibit the conduct both between same-sex and different-sex participants.
Equality of treatment and the due process right to demand respect for conduct protected by the substantive guarantee of liberty are linked in important respects, and a decision on the latter point advances both interests. If protected conduct is made criminal and the law which does so remains unexamined for its substantive validity, its stigma might remain even if it were not enforceable as drawn for equal protection reasons. When homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the State, that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres.
The central holding of Bowers has been brought in question by this case, and it should be addressed. Its continuance as precedent demeans the lives of homosexual persons. The stigma this criminal statute imposes, moreover, is not trivial. The offense, to be sure, is but a class C misdemeanor, a minor offense in the Texas legal system. Still, it remains a criminal offense with all that imports for the dignity of the persons charged.
The petitioners will bear on their record the history of their criminal convictions. Just this Term we rejected various challenges to state laws requiring the registration of sex offenders.
We are advised that if Texas convicted an adult for private, consensual homosexual conduct under the statute here in question the convicted person would come within the registration laws of a least four States were he or she to be subject to their jurisdiction.
This underscores the consequential nature of the punishment and the state-sponsored condemnation attendant to the criminal prohibition. Furthermore, the Texas criminal conviction carries with it the other collateral consequences always following a conviction, such as notations on job application forms, to mention but one example.
The foundations of Bowers have sustained serious erosion from our recent decisions in Casey and Romer. When our precedent has been thus weakened, criticism from other sources is of greater significance. In the United States criticism of Bowers has been substantial and continuing, disapproving of its reasoning in all respects, not just as to its historical assumptions.
Fried, Order and Law: Posner, Sex and Reason The courts of five different States have declined to follow it in interpreting provisions in their own state constitutions parallel to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, see Jegley v.
To the extent Bowers relied on values we share with a wider civilization, it should be noted that the reasoning and holding in Bowers have been rejected elsewhere. Other nations, too, have taken action consistent with an affirmation of the protected right of homosexual adults to engage in intimate, consensual conduct.
See Brief for Mary  Robinson et al. The right the petitioners seek in this case has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom in many other countries. The doctrine of stare decisis is essential to the respect accorded to the judgments of the Court and to the stability of the law. It is not, however, an inexorable command. In Casey we noted that when a Court is asked to overrule a precedent recognizing a constitutional liberty interest, individual or societal reliance on the existence of that liberty cautions with particular strength against reversing course.
The holding in Bowers, however, has not induced detrimental reliance comparable to some instances where recognized individual rights are involved. Indeed, there has been no individual or societal reliance on Bowers of the sort that could counsel against overturning its holding once there are compelling reasons to do so. Bowers itself causes uncertainty, for the precedents before and after its issuance contradict its central holding.
The rationale of Bowers does not withstand careful analysis. First, 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; neither history nor tradition could save a law prohibiting miscegenation from consti-  tutional attack.
Second, individual decisions by married persons, concerning the intimacies of their physical relationship, even when not intended to produce offspring, are a form of "liberty" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Moreover, this protection extends to intimate choices by unmarried as well as married persons. Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.
The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter. The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle.
The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government.