Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor this November, has filed a petition with the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals asking for a full review of a decision by a three-judge panel that threw out the state’s sodomy law, the Washington Blade reported Wednesday.
The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 on March 12 that a section of Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” statute that outlaws sodomy between consenting adults, gay or straight, is unconstitutional based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003 known as Lawrence v. Texas.
A clerk with the 4th Circuit appeals court said a representative of the Virginia Attorney General’s office filed the petition on Cuccinelli’s behalf on March 26. The petition requests what is known as an en banc hearing before the full 15 judges to reconsider the earlier ruling by the three-judge panel.
The case involves a man who solicited oral sex from a minor and Cuccinelli’s office claims that the Supreme Court decision does not apply to cases involving minors. The majority opinion by the 4th Circuit panel stated that a new law outlawing sodomy between an adult and a minor would likely be constitutional.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s campaign jumped on the news. “This is just another example of Ken Cuccinelli ignoring the economy and instead focusing on his divisive ideological agenda,” McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin said in a statement to TPM.
Cuccinelli’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: Caroline Gibson, deputy communications director for Cuccinelli, sent TPM the following statement:
“This case is not about sexual orientation, but using current law to protect a 17 year-old girl from a 47 year-old sexual predator. We agree with the dissenting opinion that the petitioner was not entitled to federal habeas corpus relief and the full court should have the opportunity to decide this matter. The attorney general is committed to protecting Virginia’s children from predators who attempt to exploit them and rob them of their childhood.”