This Note will proceed in four parts. Part I will catalogue the jurisprudential and philosophical conflict over the legitimacy of morals legislation. Part II will examine the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence regarding reproductive and sexual liberty, noting the trend towards conflating liberty with autonomy that culminated in Lawrence v. Texas. Part III will closely scrutinize the characterization of liberty in Lawrence, demonstrating that it is restricted by associational and spatial limitations. Part IV will connect those limitations to the description of dignity Justice Kennedy employed in Lawrence and in other cases. This conception of dignity embodies substantive values concerning the appropriate context of sexual liberty. Indeed, though not a doctrinally perfect match, Justice Kennedy’s depiction of dignity resembles the Catholic conception of sexual dignity: one that recognizes the worth of sexual relations in advancing love and intimacy, but one that does not embrace total autonomy. Consequently, the liberty interest Justice Kennedy identifies should not be interpreted as a rejection of public morality, because his conception of liberty is premised on a substantive dignity that refuses to divorce itself from morality.
Kristian R. Mukoski,
The Constraint of Dignity: Lawrence v. Texas and Public Morality,
Notre Dame L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndlr/vol89/iss1/11