1982 August 3

Michael Hardwick Arrested in Bed for Sodomy Law Violation; Heads to Surpeme Court


Early in the morning on this day, Michael Hardwick was arrested in his bedroom in Atlanta, Georgia, for violating the state’s sodomy statute. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction and the constitutionality of state sodomy laws on June 30, 1986, in Bowers v. Hardwick. Seventeen years later, on June 26, 2003, the Supreme Court reversed itself and declared state sodomy laws unconstitutional, in Lawrence v. Texas.

Read Michael Hardwick’s story: Peter Irons, The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court (Ch. 16) (1988)

Read: David A. J. Richards, The Sodomy Cases: Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas (2009)

Learn more: Vicki Eaklor, A GLBT History of the 20th Century (2008)

Justice Harry Blackmun’s dissent in Bowers v. Hardwick: “This case is no more about ‘a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy, as the Court purports to declare, than Stanley v. Georgia was about a fundamental right to watch obscene movies, or Katz v. United States was about a fundamental right to place interstate bets from a telephone booth. Rather, this case is about ‘the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men,’ namely, ‘the right to be let alone.’ Olmstead v. United States (Justice Brandeis, dissenting on June 4, 1928).

Read: William Eskridge, Jr., Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America (2008)

Read: Dale Carpenter,  Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas: How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans (2012)

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