Perry Forgets SCOTUS Case On TX Sodomy Law Decided When He Was Governor

Another weird fumble by Rick Perry:

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Texas Gov. Rick Perry admitted Thursday that he didn’t know about the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, a case decided while he was governor which struck down the state’s anti-sodomy law and similar laws in 13 others.

A voter at a meet and greet asked him to defend his criticism of limited government in the case.

“I wish I could tell you I knew every Supreme Court case. I don’t, I’m not even going to try to go through every Supreme Court case, that would be — I’m not a lawyer,” Perry said at the Blue Strawberry Coffee Shop here. “We can sit here and you know play I gotcha questions on what about this Supreme Court case or whatever, but let me tell you, you know and I know that the problem in this country is spending in Washington, D.C., it’s not some Supreme Court case.”

In 2003, the Supreme Court deemed Texas’ anti-sodomy law to be unconstitutional in a 6-3 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, and the case nullified anti-sodomy laws in 13 other states at the same time. Perry, a strong opponent of gay marriage and the ability of homosexuals to serve openly in the military, served as governor when this case was decided.

Asked by Ken Herman, a columnist with the Austin American Statesman, for clarification on whether he knew what the case concerned, Perry responded, “I’m not taking the bar exam…I don’t know what a lot of legal cases involve.”

When told that the Supreme Court case struck down the Texas sodomy law, Perry said, “My position on traditional marriage is clear and I don’t know need a law. I don’t need a federal law case to explain it to me.”

The Texas governor referenced Lawrence v. Texas in his 2010 book Fed Up!, calling it one of the court cases in which “Texans have a different view of the world than do the nine oligarchs in robes.”

I suppose one could make a case that remembering a Supreme Court decision off the top of your head, but when its own that was decided when you were Governor and which you mentioned in your own book, it’s just odd. Like some of his other verbal gaffes it just makes one wonder if Perry is one of those people for whom the lights are on, but nobody’s home.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mark says:

    There is zero chance Perry wrote that sentence in his book. I don’t think he knows what the word “oligarchs” even means.

  2. sam says:

    “Another weird fumble by Rick Perry”

    Another revealing moment in the political history of some dumb shitkicker from Texas.

  3. Franklin says:

    I don’t like Perry, but in my opinion this is nitpicking.

  4. Ben says:

    You don’t have to be a lawyer to remember Lawrence v. Texas, it was pretty big frickin news when it came out. This tells me two things:

    1. Rick Perry absolutely did NOT write that book, it was definitely ghost-written (which is more common than most people think).

    2. Rick Perry just doesn’t have a whole lot of political/legal/news intellectual curiosity to pay attention to important current events (just like a former governor of Alaska). Instead, he has staffers that just drill him on talking points, which means he doesn’t actually have to pay attention to the news himself.

  5. WR says:

    @Ben: ” Rick Perry absolutely did NOT write that book, it was definitely ghost-written (which is more common than most people think).”

    Yes, but notw it’s looking like he didn’t even read it. Is that so common?

  6. Someone should ask if he remembers his own platform from his 2010 election run:

    Specifically this plank:

    Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Quick, off the top of your head, what was the name of the case where the SCOTUS struck down D.C.’s in-home gun control regulation? What was the name of the case that upheld the federal partial birth abortion ban? Don’t cheat. What was the name of the case that upheld the death penalty in Texas for that Mexican national who wasn’t advised of his consular rights? Should I continue?

    FYI, I’ve presented many legal arguments before many different courts and there have been times where I forgot the names of cases I cited in my own legal briefs. Stuff happens. Plus at the time I wasn’t running for president and there weren’t eight full years under the bridge. Most folks would not conclude that I’m an idiot and most folks don’t even like me.

    Just keep in mind that although it’s quite easy and at times quite fun to throw darts and stones, and that Gov. Perry admittedly makes for an inviting target, it’s also important at times to give one’s self a reality check.

  8. @Tsar Nicholas:

    If it had been a case where he said “Which case was Texas v. Lawrence?” and the questioner had said “The sodomy law case” and Perry had went, “Oh, okay” and went on to give an intelligent response, I don’t think anyone would have said anything.

    The problem is not that he didn’t recognize the name of the case, but that he didn’t seem to recognize the body of it either and did not seem to feel that a Presidential Candidate should.

    PS – I did know the DC ruling was Heller v. District of Columbia

  9. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @WR: Didn’t even read the book someone ghosted for him? No problemo, I can go there just fine!