The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had been searching for a “perfect test case” to challenge anti-sodomy laws, and Hardwick’s cause presented the one they were looking for.They approached Hardwick, who agreed to be represented by ACLU attorneys.

Hardwick was angry at the intrusion and threatened to have Torick fired for entering his home.

Torick later stated that he "would never have made the case if [Hardwick] hadn't had an attitude problem." District Attorney Lewis Slaton chose not to prosecute the sodomy charge, considering that the warrant had expired, and his own belief that the sodomy law should not be used to prosecute consensual sexual activity.

The legitimacy of secular legislation depends, instead, on whether the State can advance some justification for its law beyond its conformity to religious doctrine.” In August 1982, Atlanta police officer Keith Torick issued Michael Hardwick a citation for public drinking after witnessing Hardwick throw a beer bottle into the brush along Monroe Ave, thereby observing him violating the city’s ordinance that prohibits drinking in public.

Due to a clerical error, Hardwick missed his court date and Torick obtained a warrant for Hardwick's arrest.

Hardwick then settled the matter by paying the $50 fine, but Torick showed up at Hardwick's apartment three weeks later to serve the now-invalid warrant.

Hardwick’s roommate was sleeping on the couch in the living room.

186 (1986), is a United States Supreme Court decision, overturned in 2003, that upheld, in a 5–4 ruling, the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law criminalizing oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults, in this case with respect to homosexual sodomy, though the law did not differentiate between homosexual sodomy and heterosexual sodomy. Burger cited the “ancient roots” of prohibitions against homosexual sex, quoting William Blackstone’s description of homosexual sex as an “infamous crime against nature”, worse than rape, and “a crime not fit to be named”.

The senior dissent, authored by Justice Harry Blackmun, framed the issue as revolving around the right to privacy.

Justice Stevens also wrote a dissent joined by Justices Brennan and Marshall. In Bowers, the Court held that this right did not extend to private, consensual sexual conduct, at least insofar as it involved homosexual sex.