Cuccinelli denied review of Virginia's sodomy ruling

The Republican attorney general asked for a rehearing of a decision to strike down the state's ban on sodomy

Published April 10, 2013 3:56PM (EDT)

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was denied his request for a rehearing of a decision to overturn the state's ban on sodomy, in what was in effect a unanimous decision.

Cuccinelli had asked for the full 15-judge 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a decision by a three-judge panel of the court. But none of the judges favored rehearing the case.

The ban in question, which criminalizes sodomy between either gay or straight consenting adults, is part of Virginia's "Crimes Against Nature" statute, and was found unconstitutional by the panel.

From the Washington Blade:

The March 12 ruling by the three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit appeals court overturned a lower court decision upholding the conviction of a 47-year-old man charged in 2004 with soliciting a 17-year-old woman to engage in oral sex on grounds that the sodomy statute is unconstitutional. No sexual encounter took place, according to court records.

Cuccinelli’s office argued in its 21-page petition for a rehearing that the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision overturning state sodomy laws didn’t apply to cases involving minors. However, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert King, who wrote the majority opinion, said the Lawrence decision rendered the Virginia sodomy statute “facially” or completely unconstitutional.

Cuccinelli now is left with the option of asking the Supreme Court to review the decision.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Gay Rights Ken Cuccinelli Republicans Sodomy Virginia