Harry Blackmun: Opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick

(1986)

In the 1986 case of Bowers v. Hardwick, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a Georgia statute that made it a crime for homosexuals to engage in oral and anal sex. Four years earlier, an Atlanta police officer had entered the home of Michael Hardwick to serve him with an arrest warrant on an unrelated minor charge. He found Hardwick and a male companion engaged in sex acts and arrested both men under the Georgia antisodomy law. Charges were not pressed in court, but Hardwick later sued the attorney general of the state, claiming that the law was unconstitutional. After lengthy appeals, the case found its way to the Supreme Court, where Justice Byron White, writing for the majority, declared that the Constitution did not confer a right to homosexuals to engage in sodomy. In his dissent, Harry Blackmun framed the issue not as a constitutional right but as a right to privacy.

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Harry Blackmun (Library of Congress)

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