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.