Sex and the Supreme Court: The True Story of Lawrence v Texas

"There are some things a state can not do to direct the moral content of your life," explains author and law professor Dale Carpenter, "and controlling your sexuality is one of those things."

In his new book, Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas, Carpenter outlines both the backstory and the importance of the 2003 Supreme Court case that invalidated American's sodomy laws. "It revives a constitutional doctrine that protects a right to liberty and privacy and sexual autonomy for adults."

Reason Magazine's Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with Carpenter to discuss his book, the story behind the landmark case, and how a baby shower gift became an indicator of changing attitudes inside the Supreme Court.

About 8:45 minutes.

Shot by Meredith Bragg and Anthony Fisher. Edited by Meredith Bragg.

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  • Mr. FIFY||

    Wonder how many progressives signed off on sodomy laws back in the day...

  • sticks||

    Sodomy lost all appeal after it was legal. :(

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Not for me, it didn't. My girlfriend and I sodomize each other several times a week.

  • R C Dean||

    Its an interesting dynamic.

    Once sex/reproduction was singled out in the abortion/contraception cases as a "private" no-go area for the State, it created/facilitated the mindset that everything else was not in a private, no-go area for the state.

    This is most evident in the lefty fever swamps, which are quite hospitable to massive government intrusion everywhere except where ladyparts might be involved.

    But it also bleeds over into the judiciary. It sort of flips what should be default assumption that everywhere is a no-go area for the state, in the absence of specific authority. Now, the only no-go area is sex/reproduction, because it was named as such.

  • Randian||

    Your pointtime about thethe fever swamps is well taken and well stated, but I think you're glossing over federalism concerns here. There are only very basic areas that States cannot intrude into, and I am not convinced a one size fits all rule on sexual behavior is appropriate under the Constitution.

  • Randian||

    Goddamn autocorrect and Android

  • T o n y||

    Liberals believe we are quite consistent. Only because you have a particular stick up your ass about liberals do you have to immediately find fault with them no matter what the subject is.

    Liberals are traditionally the protectors of individual liberty, and have been at the forefront of every meaningful political battle about individual liberty.

    We just don't believe not being taxed is a legitimate civil right, and that government can (and occasionally must) step in to secure individual liberties when they are threatened. They can be threatened by private parties as well as by government--and occasionally the federal government, including the supreme court, should trump violations made my local or state governments.

    To me, federalism is a distraction. More local governments can be all the more oppressive of individuals, and that's not a hypothesis but a recognition of history.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Read the FBI wiretapping story in the newish posting, Tony, then tell us how your Team is all up in the liberty. And that's just for starters.

    "occasionally" step in? Fuck, what part of everyday existence ISN'T regulated?

    Your Team is just as fucked-up as the social-con wing. Stop sugarcoating.

    Oh, and if you're so pissy about state governments... petition your Congresscreatures to abolish state governments. Problem solved, eh.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Hell, even Salon has doubts:

    http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/

  • ||

    If you mean classical liberals, you're right. If you mean liberal in the modern sense (which of course you do), you are wrong, as per usual. Social liberalism is not at all concerned with individual rights. It is all about collective rights. Hence elevating particular classes of people based on their genetic makeup, appearance, or lifestyle choices into special groups for whom additional privileges, misnamed as "rights", are to be considered with higher weight than the individual rights of others.

    Social liberalism is also not concerned with legitimate negative rights but badly misnamed positive "rights" which are actually guarantees of the privilege to extract things from others by force.

    You are correct to say that social liberals have been at the forefront of every meaningful political battle about individual liberty - they're just on the opposite line of scrimmage, sparing no effort to kill and sacrifice negative individual rights on the altar of collective positive rights. The crowning achievement being the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which genuine civil libertarians like Goldwater rightly opposed. Hence we arrive at a point today where, for example, women collectively, by nature of being in possession of a vagina, have a positive "right" to birth control, paid for by extracting property from others, whose individual right to their property and individual right to their moral viewpoint and individual right to their religious viewpoint is trumped by the collective.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    You're a racist, PM.

    /libsnark

  • ||

    by nature of being in possession of a vagina uterus

    FIFY

  • Father Jack||

    Feck off, T o n y, you fed pervert. What agency do you work for? Drink! Arse! Girls!

  • Hugh Akston||

    I wonder if there is a post with this same title at Sugarfree's blog.

  • Pip||

    One can only hope.

  • juris imprudent||

    Not the first time the Court reached a good conclusion using poor reasoning.

  • yonemoto||

    I was at the oral arguments at lawrence v texas. Probably one of three straight people there (I dated one of the others, and the third is a clerk for Justice Thomas). True story.

  • yonemoto||

    what's sad? is that was my college senior year spring break in 2003. Partaay!

  • yonemoto||

    oops, he's clerking for Roberts, not Thomas.

  • joy||

    Reason Magazine's Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with Carpenter to discuss his book, the story behind the landmark case, http://www.riemeninnl.com/riem-ed-hardy-c-14.html and how a baby shower gift became an indicator of changing attitudes inside the Supreme Court.

  • joy||

    Reason Magazine's Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with Carpenter to discuss his book, the story behind the landmark case, http://www.petwinkel.com/pet-polo-c-38.html and how a baby shower gift became an indicator of changing attitudes inside the Supreme Court.

  • NL_||

    Is there a theory why Texas let this go all the way to the Supreme Court? I'm assuming that the various lawyers and politicians had political reasons to not fold to the "homosexual agenda" or whatever.

    But it seems like they could've avoided the risk of a blanket legalization, and the cost of fighting Lambda Legal at multiple court levels, by dropping some petty charges against some random gay dudes. That's a common trick institutions, including governments, use to avoid bad precedent.

    I doubt there would've been much press on the "charges dropped against no-name gay guys for consensual hookup" story, but somebody somewhere had to justify the cost and effort of fighting through the courts with the risk of a very high-profile loss that would create a big precedent.

    I'm assuming it might be something banal, like local prosecutors took the case so far that at some point Texas was locked in and either had to concede the point or keep fighting.

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