Bowers v. Hardwick – 8/3/1982

History |


Sodomy is defined as “sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation.” On this day in 1982, the concept of this, referring to the constitution and a person’s right to be involved in sodomy, was questioned when a man was arrested for acts of sodomy with another man – in his own home. The Georgia law that was being questioned stated that oral and anal sex in private between two or more adults was a crime. Although it was taken as a homosexuality issue at the time, the law actually didn’t differentiate between homosexual sodomy and heterosexual sodomy. 

The whole thing started when Michael Hardwick was found throwing a beer bottle in the bushes, which was violating the city’s rules on public drinking as well as littering. Hardwick then missed his court date, which resulted in Keith Torick, a police officer, to issue a warrant for his arrest. The matter would soon be settled after a $50 fine was paid by Hardwick. However, Torick still showed up at his apartment to issue the warrant, which was now invalid. His roommate answered the door and instructed them to Hardwick’s apartment. This is where the police officers saw him engaging in oral sex with another person.

Due to the intrusion, Hardwick was outraged and threatened to help fire Torick for even entering his home. Due to his behavior, Torick decided to make the case that he was taking part in sodomy, arresting them both for the incident. It was a felony that could receive anywhere from one to 20 years in prison. The charge was first chosen to not be prosecuted, since the warrant was expired and he believed the law shouldn’t take effect for consensual sexual activity, meaning they were both engaged in the activity.

Hardwick then proceeded to sue Michael Bowers, who was the attorney general of Georgia at the time, to get better clarity on the sodomy law. This was a topic that the ACLU was waiting to break out, so they can step in to help challenge the law. The ACLU attorneys would later represent Hardwick in the trial.

At first, the ruling was 5-4 and resulted in the sodomy laws being upheld. However, their decision was later overturned in Lawrence v. Texas, which stated that the laws for sodomy in Texas were unconstitutional referring to the Fourteenth Amendment. Anthony Kennedy, a Justice, would later write:

“Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.” 

The trial would later be portrayed in a play titled “Sodomy Rules: The Bowers v. Hardwick Trial.” It was a play that was written by Bill Crouch, who also performed it in New York City.

Homosexuality continues to be a hot topic in the culture today. It’s a group of people that are hated against on a daily basis, although the basis for that hate is NEVER justified. We live in a world that is supposed to love, but instead loves to hate. 

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Mike Sexton

Chief Editor

I have always had a passion for writing since a young age and can still remember the first time a teacher assigned us to create our own newspaper it was my favorite project. In high school I wrote for the school newspaper and loved learning about new topics. I knew I found my new passion and as soon as I stepped foot on UCLA my mind was made up. Since getting my degree I have done all types of writing and love the freedom it gives me to work from anywhere. I hope you all love my writing as I am excited to produce quality articles each day for you!