From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* On the night of September 17, 1998, history was made in the bedroom of a modest second-floor apartment just outside Houston when two men, John Lawrence (white) and Tyron Garner (black), were arrested and charged with sodomy, which was then illegal in Texas. Whether the police officers actually witnessed the act is a matter of dispute (the accused denied that they were even having sex). What isn't in dispute is that gay-rights lawyers took the case, Lawrence v. Texas, all the way to the U.S.Supreme Court, which struck down the Texas sodomy law altogether in 2003. In compelling and eminently readable prose as gripping as any detective novel Carpenter reveals the details behind the famous legal battle. He interviewed most of the major participants involved, including the police officers. He examines the historical context for the arrests, meticulously presents the versions offered by the police and the defendants, and explores the aftermath of the arrests as well as the case's ultimate legacy on gay rights. It is a story, according to the author, that involves the misuse of authority, the cowardice of elected state-court judges who rebuffed the defendants' legal claims, and the refusal of legislators to repeal a dubious and odious law. An important book about a landmark case.--Sawyers, June Copyright 2010 Booklist
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
In a presidential election year when the debate over gay marriage rages, Carpenter returns to the landmark 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas which overturned state laws criminalizing consensual homosexual sex. Carpenter's probing research leads him to question the basic facts of the case: that in Houston in 1998, John Lawrence and Tyron Garner were engaged in anal sex when sheriff's deputies entered Lawrence's apartment, ostensibly looking for an armed man. Carpenter lays out the case's background, including the machismo that dominated the sheriff's office and Texas's history of antigay laws. The story of this case is many-layered, from the stakes for the litigants to the cultural crosscurrents and often shifting societal values; strategic legal gamesmanship; and the prejudices and predilections of Supreme Court justices. Carpenter, professor of civil rights and civil liberty law at the University of Minnesota, integrates all of these parallel parts for a fully rounded account that captures the human and legal dimensions of this groundbreaking case. In his view of the case's significance: "It was a judgment that gay sex, too, might lead... [to] lasting relationships." Carpenter presents an engrossing depiction of a pivotal case in 21st-century American jurisprudence. 8 pages of illus. Agent: . (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The 2003 landmark Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court case established the right of homosexuals to engage in private sexual conduct. After setting the sociopolitical and legal scene, Carpenter (Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Univ. of Minnesota Law Sch.) describes the 1998 arrest of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner and the ensuing events as gay rights groups in Houston grasped the potential of the case as a national test. Chapters introduce participants, describe the so-called crime, compare differing accounts of the arrest, follow court events, and explain the stakes. Carpenter excels at discussing legal strategies and Supreme Court arguments, and the elite lawyers and strategists of the defense team are shown in stark contrast to the ill-prepared Harris County district attorney. VERDICT Books covering similar ground include Carlos A. Ball's From the Closet to the Courtroom, which describes five major LGBTQ cases, and David A. J. Richards's The Sodomy Cases, which discusses both Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas, but Carpenter's is the most thorough account and analysis of the case available. An interesting and insightful book recommended for lawyers, students, and scholars interested in public policy and LGBTQ studies.-Mary Jane Brustman, SUNY Albany Libs. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.