Social & Domestic Issues

What They Really Said About a ‘Right’ to Consensual Sex

Justice Byron White in Bowers v. Hardwick:

"Plainly enough, otherwise illegal conduct is not always immunized whenever it occurs in the home. Victimless crimes, such as the possession and use of illegal drugs, do not escape the law where they are committed at home. . .And if respondent’s submission is limited to the voluntary sexual conduct between consenting adults, it would be difficult, except by fiat, to limit the claimed right to homosexual conduct while leaving exposed to prosecution adultery, incest, and other sexual crimes even though they are committed in the home. We are unwilling to start down that road. Even if the conduct at issue here is not a fundamental right, respondent [Hardwick] asserts that there must be a rational basis for the law and that there is none in this case other than the presumed belief of a majority of the electorate in Georgia that homosexual sodomy is immoral and unacceptable. This is said to be an inadequate rationale to support the law. The law, however, is constantly based on notions of morality, and if all laws representing essentially moral choices are to be invalidated under the Due Process Clause, the courts will be very busy indeed."

Homosexual Groups Call for New Right in Overturning Bowers:

Brief of the petitioner in Lawrence v. Texas:
"Among the liberties protected by the Constitution is the right of an adult to make choices about whether and in what manner to engage in private consensual sexual intimacy with another adult, including one of the same sex."

Amicus Curiae Brief of The Human Rights Campaign:
"Texas’ sodomy law infringes on a fundamental right shared by the entire community-the right to be free from governmental intrusion into, and criminalization of, private sexual relations between consenting adults."

Amicus Curiae brief for the American Civil Liberties Union:
"Americans have a fundamental right to be free from government regulation of consensual sexual conduct in the home."

Santorum Supports Byron White and Bowers:

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

Wife of Kerry’s Campaign Manager Misquotes Santorum:

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."


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