At a Glance
On October 10, 2018, Judge Reeves found that "the Mississippi anti-sodomy statute bars any act of sodomy.... [and] cannot be squared with Lawrence." The parties settled the claims of four of the five anonymous plaintiffs, which removed 24 others from the registration lists as well. The fifth plaintiff sought relief in state court, which was not opposed by the district attorney, and was also removed from the registration lists. The District Court ordered $362,921.03 in attorneys' fees. the state appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which summarily approved the award, noting "Mississippi’s Unnatural Intercourse Statute was rendered unconstitutional in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)."
Jacob W. Howard, Robert B. McDuff, Matthew Strugar
Arthur, Brenda, Carol, Diana, and Elizabeth Doe are all Mississippi residents who have been charged under Mississippi’s Unnatural Intercourse statute or Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature by Solicitation statute, and as a result were required to register with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety as sex offenders.
In 2003, in the landmark decision Lawrence v. Texas, the United States Supreme Court declared that state statutes that criminalize sodomy are unconstitutional. In its sweeping decision, the Supreme Court observed that the mere existence of sodomy laws “is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and the private spheres.”
But more than a decade later, Mississippi still has an “Unnatural Intercourse” statute on the books – and is still enforcing that statute by requiring people with Unnatural Intercourse convictions to register as sex offenders. Doe v. Hood argues that Mississippi’s discriminatory Unnatural Intercourse statute, as well as its sex offender registration requirement, is unconstitutional.
The case reaches beyond Mississippi. In 2013, CCR successfully challenged Louisiana’s requirement that people convicted of Crime Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) register as sex offenders. That litigation resulted in the removal of over 800 people from Louisiana’s sex offender registry. However, people with CANS convictions in Louisiana who subsequently moved to Mississippi are now being forced to register there as sex offenders all over again, because Mississippi requires people with out-of-state convictions that it deems equivalent to an Unnatural Intercourse conviction to register. Doe v. Hood also challenges the application of Mississippi’s unconstitutional Unnatural Intercourse statute to those with CANS convictions from Louisiana.
The case argues that Mississippi’s ongoing enforcement of its sodomy statute, over a decade after it was struck down by the Supreme Court, violates both due process and equal protection principles. After motions practuce, the parties agreed to a setlement resolving the cases of four of the five plaintiffs, and causing 24 others to be removed from the list as well. The fifth anonymous plaintiff was effectively told to first seek relief in state court, which he did; his motion for post-judgment relief in state court was not opposed by the district attorney, and he was also removed from the registration lists.
The District Court ordered $362,921.03 in attorneys' fees. The state appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which summarily approved the award, noting "Mississippi’s Unnatural Intercourse Statute was rendered unconstitutional in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)."