Cultural bias, statutory law, and case law have severely restricted the relative rights of homosexuals in the United States. In Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 homosexual rights decision, the United States Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 margin, determined that a state statute which criminalized acts of sodomy between consenting adults was constitutional (at least as applied to homosexual sodomy). In Watkins v. U.S. Army, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently attempted to minimize the damage to civil rights done by Hardwick. This Note first presents the facts, reasons, and holdings of Hardwick and Watkins. The Note then demonstrates that both opinions grossly manipulated precedent to achieve what each court felt was a just result. Finally, the Note examines the dichotomy of judicial philosophy represented by the cases: Hardwick sanctioned the legal abuse of homosexuals in the name of a majoritarian notion of sexual morality, while Watkins attempted to protect that same minority from persecution by fashioning a just result despite unjust precedent.
Rodrick W. Lewis,
Watkins v. U.S. Army and Bowers v. Hardwick: Are Homosexuals a Suspect Class or Second Class Citizens?,
68 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol68/iss3/7