Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Was the Lawrence Arrest Contrived?

The Worldnutdaily is making a huge deal today about a new book alleging that the Lawrence decision – the Supreme Court ruling that declared state sodomy laws unconstitutional – was based upon a setup, an intentional arrest for the purpose of challenging a law in court. And naturally, they’re trying to profit by selling that book after reporting on it, as is their typical modus operandi. How Stages Sex Crime Fooled Supreme Court is the headline of the article, and it cites a book by a Texas judge claiming that the whole situation was concocted solely for the purpose of getting John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner arrested for violating the Texas sodomy law so that they could mount a legal challenge to that law’s constitutionality.

The immediate and obvious response is “so what?”. This is hardly surprising or shocking and it has happened many times before. Under our law, you cannot challenge a law in the abstract. You must have standing, which means essentially that you must have suffered something as a result of that law in order to challenge it. It’s not unusual for an organization who wants to challenge a law to solicit people who are willing to get arrested in order to challenge it in court. This goes back at least as far as the Scopes trial, where the ACLU actually took out newspaper ads seeking a teacher who would agree to be arrested so that they could get a conviction and challenge that conviction by seeking to have the law overturned (which backfired, actually, because the appeals court threw out the conviction on a technicality, thus denying them the chance to appeal the validity of the law itself).

This has also been done by anti-abortion protestors, for example, getting arrested intentionally so that they could challenge restrictions on protesting in front of clinics, by civil rights protestors, and many others. This has nothing to do with the substantive issues in a case. Whether a person intentionally got arrested or not, the courts still have to rule on the constitutional validity of the law. All of this is just a desperate attempt by the hard right to undermine the validity of a ruling on irrelevant grounds because they lost the argument on constitutional grounds.

Comments

  1. #1 CPT_Doom
    October 24, 2005

    Many people have noted that Rosa Parks was not the first African-American to refuse to comply with bus segregation, and was not the first arrested. She was the first, however, who was an active leader in the civil rights movement. It is known that civil rights leaders were looking for a test case to challenge segregation, and used Ms. Parks’ arrest in that way – and some have claimed her arrest was planned.

    Again, that does not in any way minimize the importance of her stand (all puns intended) nor the inhumanity of segregation.

  2. #2 raj
    October 24, 2005

    The Lawrence case was initiated by a call to the police by a third party falsely reporting a robbery. The police responded to the call, which led to the Lawrence arrest. From what I have read, the caller was subsequently arrested for making a false statement to the police and appropriately sentenced for that crime, but I don’t have the caption of that case.

    I suspect (but cannot prove) that the call to the police was in retribution for something like “lover scorned.”

    I doubt very seriously that Lawrence and Garner would have agreed to be arrested merely to test the TX sodomy law. If the conviction had been upheld, they may have been placed on sex offender registers throughout the country and might have had to register with local authorities when they moved.

    BTW, WorldNutDaily has for several years been pushing product trying to bash gay people. They seem to be obsessed with the topic. They even have an “on-staff” “ex-gay” Steven Bennett, he of Steven Bennett Ministries. Does anyone really take WND seriously?

  3. #3 Grumpy
    October 24, 2005

    This has been part of the Gay Agenda for a long, long time. In fact, homosexuals got the anti-sodomy statute enacted in Texas purely so they could eventually challenge it in court, tricking the SCOTUS into recognizing a constitutional protection for consensual sex.

    Diabolical. If only those wily queers hadn’t connived to have the law enforced, it would still be on the books to this day!

  4. #4 raj
    October 25, 2005

    Grumpy, just to let you know, your attempt at humor is not appreciated.

  5. #5 grasshopper
    October 25, 2005

    Grumpy, just to let you know that u don’t have to be called Grumpy to be grumpy. I like your humour. Keep it up.

  6. #6 raj
    October 25, 2005

    Grumpy, if your post was meant to be “tongue in cheek”, you might want to consider letting us know by using the non-html tag

    /tic

    or if it was meant to be sarcastic

    /sarcastic

    Obviously HTML needs to have other tags than those just for formatting.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    October 25, 2005

    I thought it was obviously sarcastic and mocking of those who say things like that. And I thought it was funny.

  8. #8 Phillip J. Birmingham
    October 25, 2005

    Grumpy, if your post was meant to be “tongue in cheek”, you might want to consider letting us know by using the non-html tag

    /tic

    Or perhaps some subtle stratagem, such as a siren, large firecracker, or gong.