Summary of Bowers v. Hardwick, Supreme Court of the United States
Respondent/Defendant: Hardwick; the defendant was charged for violating a Georgia statue which criminalized sodomy committed between two adult males. The defendant argued that he was a homosexual and laws criminalizing consensual sodomy were unconstitutional. The court of appeals agreed with the defendant and ruled that the Georgia statue was unconstitutional under the 9th Amendment and Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Now the state appeals.
Issue: Is homosexual sodomy one of the fundamental rights offered by the Constitution?
Legal Reasoning: The court stated that fundamental rights are rights which are “deeply rooted in this nations’s history and tradition” or the rights which are essential to the existence of liberty. But homosexual sodomy, the court ruled, met none of these requirements and it can not be considered a fundamental right. The court used the fact that many states still had laws against homosexual sodomy and the court ruled that it was not ready to tell all these states that their laws against homosexual sodomy were unconstitutional. So the decision of the lower court was reversed.