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Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Book that Tells You how It Was Done

The Houston Chronicle reviewed Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas by University of Minnesota Law School professor Dale Carpenter. It seems like a useful study of a changing of an interpretation of the United States Constitution by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some observations:
1. It is common that the facts of a case like this are not very important. It is entirely possible that the defendants in the case were not engaging in sex at all.
2. A big appellate case usually doesn't develop randomly out of the slush pile. Lambda Legal Defense Fund had been looking for a case like this for years.
3. The U.S. Supremes worried little or not at all about reversing the precedent of Bowers v. Hardwick. Appellate justices wax eloquent on the importance of issue preclusion, but "five votes can do anything" at the Supreme Court.
4. State appellate justices can take their careers in their hands when they decide a case. This case almost ended the career of Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals Justice John Anderson.
This book would bear comparison to Gideon's Trumpet by Anthony Lewis.

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