The attorney-general of Texas has said he will seek to recriminalize sex between men if the Supreme Court overturns a previous ruling declaring it a constitutional right.
A 2003 ruling by the Supreme Court found that laws banning sodomy in the United States were unconstitutional.
But after overturning Roe v Wade to allow abortion to be criminalized, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas flagged the 2003 ruling Lawrence v Texas could also be overturned.
In an interview, attorney-general Ken Paxton was asked whether he would be willing to take a sodomy law to the Supreme Court.
“My job is to defend state law and I’ll continue to do that,” he said.
“That is my job under the Constitution and I’m certainly willing and able to do that.”
Laws against sex between men remain on the books in several US states, including Texas, but Lawrence v Texas has rendered those laws unconstitutional.
But Paxton was open to challenging the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision.
“This is all new territory for us so I’d have to know how the Legislature was laid out and whether we thought we could defend it,” he said.
“Ultimately, if it’s constitutional, we’re going to go defend it.”
The office of attorney-general in Texas is independently operated from the rest of the government, and the attorney-general is an elected office.
Paxton’s Democratic opponent in November’s election, Rochelle Garza, expressed her outrage on Twitter.
“Roe was just the first — they won’t stop till they roll back all of our civil rights,” she tweeted.
“We MUST kick Ken Paxton out of office this Nov.”
The overturning Roe v Wade has shaken up more than just abortion law in America.
Up for debate is whether the morning-after pill and IUDs will also be criminalized as a result of the ruling.
Some anti-abortion advocates argue both those methods of birth control count as early abortion rather than contraception.
While Thomas was the only justice to outwardly state the Supreme Court could overturn the constitutional right to contraception, sex between men, and same-sex marriage, the majority on the court dismissed the framework on which Roe v Wade was decided.
That legal argument was also used for those other cases.
Who is Ken Paxton?
Ken Paxton has established himself as one of the most influential conservatives in the United States.
When Roe v Wade was overturned on Friday, he announced within hours that prosecutors in Texas could begin pursuing criminal charges against people getting or providing abortions.
He has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, transgender rights, and COVID-19 restrictions.
He was indicted on criminal securities fraud in 2015 but the trial against him has been repeatedly delayed.
In 2020, seven of his aides accused him of abuse of office, bribery, and other crimes.