U.S. attorney Michael Mosman, the leading candidate for a federal judgeship in Oregon, has declared that he opposes sodomy laws and feels that gays should be treated with "respect and civility and tolerance." In an interview with the editorial board of The [Portland] Oregonian on Monday, Mosman said he was not expressing his personal views in 1986 when as a Supreme Court clerk he wrote legal memos opposing the overturning of Georgia's sodomy law.
Though not formally nominated, Mosman is the Bush administration's top candidate for a district court seat in Portland. But his ascent hit a snag following disclosures about his role in Bowers v. Hardwick, when he was a law clerk for Justice Lewis Powell Jr. Powell cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of upholding Georgia's sodomy law after Mosman wrote that striking down the law would leave "no limiting principle" against prosecution of other sex crimes, such as prostitution. In one memo to Powell, Mosman wrote that "the right to privacy does not extend to protect 'sexual freedom' in the absence of the fundamental values of family and procreation."
Before he died in 1998, Powell said he regretted his decision in the case. The Supreme Court is now considering a similar challenge to the Texas sodomy law, which outlaws same-sex sexual acts.
Mosman met privately Friday with officials from two gay rights groups in Portland to assure them that he is not biased against gays. "I'd like to do what I can in any appropriate setting to repudiate the idea that I have antigay views," Mosman said. He said that if he had been a legislator, he would have voted against Georgia's sodomy law. He said he voted against the 1992, 1994, and 2000 antigay ballot measures sponsored by the Oregon Citizens Alliance.