In 2007, Carpenter was appointed the Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law. He was the Julius E. Davis Professor of Law for 2006-07 and the Vance K. Opperman Research Scholar for 2003-04. He is a frequent television, radio, and print commentator on constitutional law, the First Amendment, and sexual orientation and the law.Carpenter received his B.A. degree in history from Yale College in 1989 and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1992. At the University of Chicago he was Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Law Review. He received both the D. Francis Bustin Prize for excellence in legal scholarship and the John M. Olin Foundation Scholarship for Law & Economics. He is also a member of the state bars of Texas and California.

The Lavender Lecture was inaugurated by the OUTlaws in 2013 as a venue to bring discussion and education to South Dakota on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues and the law. Former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Michael Streit was the first Lavender Lecture speaker. Professor Carpenter continues this newly minted tradition.

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