In Griswold for the first time the Supreme Court recognized that couples, at least married couples, had a right to privacy, drawing on the Fourth Amendment's protection of private homes from searches and seizures without a warrant based on probable cause, the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process of law in the states, and the Ninth Amendment's assurance that rights not specified in the Constitution are "retained by the people". Baird (1972) expanded the scope of sexual privacy rights to unmarried persons. Hardwick (1986), the Supreme Court heard a constitutional challenge to sodomy laws brought by a man who had been arrested, but was not prosecuted, for engaging in oral sex with another man in his home.
In 1973, the choice whether to have an abortion was found to be protected by the Constitution in Roe v. The Court rejected this challenge in a 5 to 4 decision.
Attorneys for Lawrence and Garner asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest appellate court in Texas for criminal matters, to review the case.
After a year's delay, on April 17, 2002, that request was denied.
A second officer reported seeing them engaged in oral sex, and two others did not report seeing the pair having sex.
Lawrence repeatedly challenged the police for entering his home.
Apparently outraged that Lawrence had been flirting with Garner, he called police and reported "a black male going crazy with a gun" at Lawrence's apartment. In accordance with police procedures, the first to arrive, Joseph Quinn, took the lead both in approaching the scene and later in determining what charges to bring.
Four Harris County sheriff's deputies responded within minutes and Eubanks pointed them to the apartment. He later reported seeing Lawrence and Garner having anal sex in the bedroom.
He then reasoned that because state intrusions are equally burdensome on an individual's personal life regardless of his marital status or sexual orientation, there is no reason to treat the rights of citizens in same-sex couples any differently.
By the time of the Lawrence decision, ten states—Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Utah and Virginia—still banned consensual sodomy without respect to the sex of those involved, and four—Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri—prohibited same-sex couples from engaging in anal and oral sex.
Lawrence and Eubanks had been friends for more than 20 years.