The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 23
November 23rd, 2012
Today is Black Friday, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season. Apparently the name Black Friday has two origins. In Philadelphia in the early 1960s, it referred to the gridlocked traffic that occurred as everyone rushed to the stores to take advantage of post-Thanksgiving sales. In the ’70s, economists began calling the day “Black Friday” because it was the day in which many retailers would begin to turn their profits for the year (or, go “in the black,” as opposed to remaining “in the red.”) But with the rise of online shopping, and with some stores beginning to open earlier on the evening of Thanksgiving day to get an early start on the lucrative shopping season, Black Friday may go the way of the dodo bird. For me, it already has. I’ve never seen a dodo bird, and I’ve never bothered to venture within a half-mile of a shopping mall or retail outlet on Black Friday. How about you?
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Georgia Supreme Court Strikes Down State Sodomy Law: 1998. It took twelve years for the Georgia Supreme Court to do what the U.S. Supreme Court refused to do. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s sodomy law as constitutional in Bowers v. Hardwick (see Jun 30), a ruling that deeply disappointed the gay community and set back the quest to get rid of the nation’s sodomy laws by nearly two decades. But in 1998, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down that state’s law, the very law that was in question in Bowers, as a violation to the right to privacy under the state’s constitution. Unlike the 1986 case which involved a gay man who was in a consensual sexual relationship with another man, this case a heterosexual man who was accused of performing non-consensual oral sex on a niece. The jury acquitted him of the non-consensual portion of the charge due to lack of evidence, but convicted him of sodomy since Georgia, like many states, defined sodomy to include oral sex. And unlike many states, Georgia made it a crime regardless of whether it was heterosexual or homosexual. On appeal, the defense held that the statute was unconstitutional, but the state was confident. After all, the law had already been validated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But the Georgia Supreme Court saw it differently. “While many believe that acts of sodomy, even those involving consenting adults, are morally reprehensible, this repugnance alone does not create a compelling justification for state regulation of the activity,” the court ruled in its 6-1 decision. Citing a 1905 state ruling, the state Supreme Court found that the defendant had “the right to be let alone,” a right that was more expansive than the right to privacy protected by the U.S. Constitution. “We cannot think of any other activity that reasonable persons would rank as more private and more deserving of protection from governmental interference than consensual, private, adult sexual activity,” Chief Justice Robert Benham wrote in the decision.
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