Thursday, February 24, 2005

How'd I miss this story?

My discussion with loyal reader Susan of Local Tint in an earlier comments thread prompted me to check on the status of the court challenge to the Alabama sex-toy ban. As it turns out, it's no more.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined without comment Tuesday to hear an appeal of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Williams v. Alabama to uphold the law. That means it's still illegal to sell vibrators in Alabama, though you're free to use them or buy them out of state.

I thought there was about a 50-50 chance that the justices would opt to hear the case, but I guess they decided that discretion is the better part of valor in a year when so much of the country is worked up about gay marriage. Still, it would have been rather interesting to see the justices' response to the 11th Circuit's reasoning, which adhered to the "slippery slope" theory that if you can't ban sex toys, then you must not be able to ban prostitution or incest either. And that's right, as long as the words "public health and safety" mean nothing to you.

Once the current furor over all things sexual dies down a little, and assuming no drastic ideological shift over the next few years, I expect the Supreme Court will reverse the 11th Circuit's decision. As Circuit Judge Rosemary Barkett's dissent noted, "The majority's decision rests on the erroneous foundation that there is no substantive due process right to adult consensual sexual intimacy in the home and erroneously assumes that the promotion of public morality provides a rational basis to criminally burden such private intimate activity. These premises directly conflict with the Supreme Court's holding in Lawrence v. Texas."

In plain English: Ignore the Supreme Court at your peril.

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