Who Am I?

Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher


I'm Norman S. Fletcher, the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. Don't let the button-down, bow-tie look fool you for a minute—beneath this judicial robe beats the heart of a man who may have done more to end sexual repression since Alfred Kinsey (another bow-tie wearer) fudged his first data set.

On Monday, my brethren and I in a state still infamous for the, er, pubic-relations spectacle of Bowers v. Hardwick, made it easier for unmarried folks over the age of consent to engage in all kinds of sex. What was once legally defined as "fornication" is now jes' a good ol' time.

In In re: J.M., a child, we ruled "that the Georgia Constitution prohibits the State from criminalizing "private, unforced, non-commercial acts of sexual intimacy between persons legally able to consent."

This case involved teen Jesse McClure, who was caught building the beast with two backs with his girlfriend, dubbed "G.D." in the proceedings, in her bedroom at her parents' house. Jesse was charged under the Peach State's 1833 fornication statute for having sex, even though both he and the girl had reached the age of consent (16 years old in Georgia). Jesse's not just a nonconformist for challenging a repressive state law; he's part of a declining population of adolescents who are sexually active. Over the course of the 1990s, despite all the stories about how kids were rutting like the President, the percentage of teens who had intercourse dropped from 54 percent to 46 percent. Even those tawdry tales of middle-school oral sex rings turned out to be false, though things did get a bit more out of hand during the Clinton years, if you know what I mean.

Will the 10 states that still have fornication laws on the books follow Georgia's swinging lead? I don't know about that. But I do want parents to rest easy. Even though we said that consenting adults were free to do the nasty, we also stressed that, "nothing in [our] opinion should be read to address…parents' rights to regulate what occurs inside their home, including who enters their house and under what circumstances."