Vice Squad
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
From Sodomy to Polygamy

Is Justice Scalia's fear manifesting? Are we seeing a wave of challenges to various states' criminal sex laws in the light of the Supreme Court's June 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas? The Lawrence decision ruled sodomy laws unconstitutional (see this earlier Vice Squad blog on Lawrence.) Alexandria Sage of the AP reports that a civil rights attorney is challenging Utah's ban on polygamy in federal court. The case involves three people who wanted to enter into a plural marriage but were denied a marriage license by Salt Lake County. It seems that we have only begun to see the reach of the Lawrence decision.

Smoke Shops and Cigarettes
The AP has an article reporting that a Native American tribe is appealing a federal court decision that the state of Rhode Island correctly shut down its tax-free tobacco store after a violent raid. The federal trial court ruled that the Narragansett tribe was subject to state taxes on tobacco, while the tribe maintains that RI state officials wrongly executed a search warrant on sovereign tribal lands. The violence resulted when tribal police resisted the RI state officers' advance on the tribe's land. Arguments are scheduled before the 1st Circuit some time in May.

The AP reports that the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by cigarette manufacturer R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co to challenge an award to a widow of a teacher who died of cancer. At issue was whether the Supreme Court should consider blocking a Florida law that allows lawsuits against cigarette makers over their products, because of federal regulations for the making and sale of cigarettes.

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