Make Way for the New Kid on the Block: The Possible Zoning Implications of Lawrence v. Texas

This note examines the potentially far-reaching impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, specifically the possible implica-tions for zoning regulations that relate to familial composition. Many municipalities have adopted zoning ordinances that prohibit certain household compositions from living in a residential neighborhood. The most common example of this type of zoning regulation limits nontradi-tional living arrangements in single-family neighborhoods.After examining the evolution of zoning regulations in the United States, this note examines, in light of Lawrence, the validity of ordinances that seek to regulate activity within the four walls of the home. Although courts have traditionally deferred to the discretion of zoning bodies, Lawrence may provide the ammunition necessary to eliminate laws that mandate traditionally accepted living arrangements. This note examines how familial zoning ordinances fail to comport with, and even conflict with, permissible zoning objectives. Finally, this note concludes that courts should rely on the reasoning of Lawrence to invalidate existing familial zoning ordinances.

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