BOWERS v. HARDWICK, 478 U.S. 186 (1986)
After being charged with violating the Georgia statute criminalizing sodomy by
committing that act with another adult male in the bedroom of his home, respondent
Hardwick (respondent) brought suit in Federal District Court, challenging the
constitutionality of the statute insofar as it criminalized consensual sodomy. The court
granted the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Court of
Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the Georgia statute violated respondent's
The Georgia statute is constitutional.
(a) The Constitution does not confer a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in
sodomy. None of the fundamental rights announced in this Court's prior cases involving
family relationships, marriage, or procreation bear any resemblance to the right asserted
in this case. And any claim that those cases stand for the proposition that any kind of
private sexual conduct between consenting adults is constitutionally insulated from state
proscription is unsupportable.
(b) Against a background in which many States have criminalized sodomy and still do, to
claim that a right to engage in such conduct is "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and
tradition" or "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" is, at best, facetious.
(c) There should be great resistance to expand the reach of the Due Process Clauses to
cover new fundamental rights. Otherwise, the Judiciary necessarily would take upon
itself further authority to govern the country without constitutional authority. The claimed
right in this case falls far short of overcoming this resistance.
(d) The fact that homosexual conduct occurs in the privacy of the home does not affect
(e) Sodomy laws should not be invalidated on the asserted basis that majority belief that
sodomy is immoral is an inadequate rationale to support the laws. P. 196.
., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C. J., and POWELL,
REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BURGER, C. J., post, p. 196, and