State v. Limon
|Matthew R. Limon|
|Supreme Court of Kansas|
|Decided October 21, 2005
|A state law allowing for lesser punishment for statutory rape convictions if the partners were of different sexes than if they were of the same sex was found unconstitutional under both the federal and Kansas state constitutions|
|Majority by: Marla J. Luckert
Davis, Gernon took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
State v. Limon (280 Kan. 275, 122 P.3d 22) is a 2005 Kansas Supreme Court case in which a state law allowing for lesser punishment for statutory rape convictions if the partners were of different sexes than if they were of the same sex was found unconstitutional under both the federal and Kansas state constitutions. It was the first case to cite the United States Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas as precedent.
In February 2000, a week after his eighteenth birthday, Kansas resident Matthew R. Limon engaged in a consensual act of oral sex with a 14-year-old boy. The difference in their ages at the time of the act was three years, one month and a number of days. Under the state's Romeo and Juliet law (K.S.A. § 21-3522), the penalties for statutory rape are less severe if the incident involves two teenagers. The Kansas statute specifically excluded same-sex sexual conduct. Because of this exclusion, Limon was charged under K.S.A. § 21-3505(a)(2) with criminal sodomy.
Limon's attorneys filed a pretrial motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that K.S.A. § 21-3522 was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it discriminated on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. The motion was denied and Limon was convicted of criminal sodomy. He was sentenced to 17 years and two months in prison. Had the sexual encounter been between a male and female, the maximum sentence would have been 15 months. Limon was also required to register as a sex offender and to submit to five years of supervision upon release.
Limon appealed his case to the Kansas Court of Appeals, which affirmed his conviction citing Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), a United States Supreme Court case which upheld sodomy laws as constitutional. His appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court was also denied and Limon appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 2002.
On June 26, 2003, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) a constitutional challenge to the sodomy law of Texas. The Court explicitly overruled Bowers. On June 27, in light of its decision in Lawrence, the Court vacated the Kansas Supreme Court's decision upholding Limon's conviction and remanded the case for further consideration. The Kansas Court of Appeals again upheld the conviction and sentence in January 2004. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on October 21, 2005, that the "Romeo and Juliet" statute violated the Equal Protection Clauses of both the United States Constitution and the Kansas constitution and struck the words "and are members of the opposite sex" from K.S.A. § 21-3522. Limon was released from prison on November 3, 2005.
- K.S.A. § 21-3522 as passed by the Kansas Legislature reads "(a) Unlawful voluntary sexual relations is engaging in voluntary: (1) sexual intercourse; (2) sodomy; or (3) lewd fondling or touching with a child who is 14 years of age but less than 16 years of age and the offender is less than 19 years of age and less than four years of age older than the child and child and the offender are the only parties involved and are members of the opposite sex."
- "Limon v. Kansas - Case Background". American Civil Liberties Union. September 8, 2005. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 US 186 (Supreme Court of the United States June 30, 1986).
- Lawrence v. Texas, 539 US 558 (Supreme Court of the United States June 26, 2003).
- Limon v. Kansas, 539 US 955 (Supreme Court of the United States June 27, 2003).
- "Gay rights case voids 17-year term for teen". The St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida: The Washington Post). June 28, 2003. p. 10A. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- State v. Limon, 32 Kan. App. 2d 369 (Kansas Court of Appeals 2004).
- State v. Limon (Kansas Supreme Court October 21, 2005). Text
- Bauer, Laura (2005-11-04). "Defendant in gay sex case released from jail". The Kansas City (KS) Star. p. B-1.