Rick Perry has never wavered on his opinion of Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark 2003 Supreme Court ruling that struck down Texas’s anti-sodomy statute and legalized sodomy across the country. But at a town hall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Thursday, Rick Perry appeared to forget the content of the case he has railed against since 2002.
When an audience member asked a question about the famous case, Rick Perry repeated the question including the name of the case, but then stumbled. “We have a federal government that is out of control from the standpoint of spending,” Perry began his response, “and I wish I could tell you I knew every Supreme Court case… I’m not a lawyer but here’s what I do know, I know they’re spending too much money in Washington, D.C.” From here, Perry launches in to a stump speech about spending.
Here’s the video:
But this wasn’t always Perry’s response about the case that struck down Texas’s anti- “homosexual conduct” statute (which, though now unenforceable, remains on the books).
In 2002, Gov. Perry defended the Texas law when the Court took up Lawrence, saying “I think our law is appropriate that we have on the books.” But Perry didn’t have to go all the way back to 2002 to remember this one.
Perry mentions Lawrence in his 2010 book Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington:
Since I have been governor, a significant number of cases involving Texas or Texans have gone to the U.S. Supreme Court…. we have had to kiss the ring of the Court and have done so, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Texans have long been involved in significant decisions before the Court, and often we have been told we can’t do something.
Among the few Perry names is Lawrence v. Texas. Apparently, last year, Perry still believed it an egregious insult that Texas did not have the power to criminalize sexual activity between two people of the same sex. Finally, Perry ran on a platform of opposing “the legalization of sodomy” when he was up for re-election in 2010.
As Perry has reached to social conservatives in Iowa, he has repeatedly demonstrated his opposition to gay rights, from same-sex marriage to Don’t Ask, Don’t tell. But Perry has not always shown an ability to remember judicial facts, like when he forgot how many Supreme Court justices there are.
Perry’s campaign did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.