Harold Locke (plaintiff) broke into a neighbor’s apartment late one night brandishing a butcher knife and forced her to submit to multiple acts of oral sex. Locke was convicted under Tennessee’s sodomy statute and sentenced to serve not less than five but no more than seven years in prison. Locke appealed. Tennessee’s Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction. Locke then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal district court against Jimmy Rose (defendant), the warden of the prison where Locke was incarcerated. The district court dismissed Locke’s petition. Locke appealed. The court of appeals reversed and issued the writ. Rose appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.