Mississippi’s Anti-Sodomy Law Unconstitutional

Fifth Circuit Ruling Confirms State Must Stop Making People Convicted Under Law Register as Sex Offenders

April 11, 2023, New Orleans – Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit confirmed that Mississippi’s anti-sodomy law is unconstitutional, bringing the state into line with the Supreme Court’s landmark 2003 ruling in
Lawrence v. Texas. Two decades after that decision, Mississippi continues to enforce its “Unnatural Intercourse” law by requiring people convicted under it to register as sex offenders. Represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel, a group of them brought a class action suit challenging the law in 2016. 

“Today’s ruling confirms what we’ve been saying for years: Mississippi can no longer cling to its homophobic, antiquated law,” said Matthew Strugar, co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “It is unconstitutional and has been for two decades. Enough is enough.”

As the losing party, the state of Mississippi is required to pay plaintiffs’ legal fees. 

“Mississippi taxpayers will now be stuck with the $400,000-plus bill for their elected officials' absurd decision to mount a tooth-and-nail defense of an obviously unconstitutional law,” said co-counsel Shayana Kadidal, Senior Managing Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.  “Other states should take note.”

The plaintiffs were also represented by Jacob W. Howard and Robert B. McDuff. 

For more information, see the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Doe v. Hood  case page

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.


Last modified 

April 12, 2023