Supreme Court Won’t Hear Cuccinelli Appeal on Virginia’s Anti-Sodomy Law

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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Cuccinelli Appeal on Virginia’s Anti-Sodomy Law

Jessica Mason Pieklo

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to go along with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's crusade to have the state's "crimes against nature" law reinstated.

The U.S. Supreme Court term opened with bad news for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, as the nation’s highest court declined to hear Cuccinelli’s appeal of a ruling striking down Virginia’s anti-sodomy law.

Cuccinelli, who is the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, has advocated strongly in defense of the state’s “crimes against nature” law, which criminalizes oral and anal sex, as a means to protect the public from child sex offenders. Cuccinelli and local law enforcement insist the statute would not be used to prosecute consenting adults acting in private. But other—including Cuccinelli’s Democratic opponent in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Terry McAuliffe—question whether that’s true, pointing to Cuccinelli’s extreme anti-contraception, anti-health-care reform, and anti-same-sex marriage positions as evidence that he is more interested in a social conservative crusade than actually stopping child predators.

The chances were slim that the Supreme Court would take up Cuccinelli’s appeal, which stems from a 2005 case in which a 47-year-old man was convicted under the state law of soliciting oral sex from a 17-year-old girl, according to the Washington Post. Relying on a 2003 Supreme Court decision that ruled sodomy statutes criminalizing sexual activity between adults were unconstitutional, a panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in March that Virginia’s statute was unconstitutional. Cuccinelli first appealed the case to the entire Fourth Circuit before asking the Supreme Court to step in.

The Supreme Court’s refusal to step in will likely only amplify the debate between Cuccinelli and McAulliffe. McAulliffe has called for the law to be updated so it is in line with the Supreme Court precedent and clearly states that it only targets predators. But in 2004, as a state senator, Cuccinelli voted against a bill that would have made such a clarification that the law did not cover private acts between consenting adults. In 2009, he said he believed “homosexual acts are wrong and should not be accommodated in government policy.”

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The Virginia gubernatorial election takes place November 5.