Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Craig Gets a Big Wet One

I can't pretend that I haven't enjoyed ragging on barely-still-Senator Larry Craig recently, even as others and I have questioned the sting operations for soliciting sex, gay or otherwise. Well, apparently it's no joke to the ACLU.

He is yet another righty outlier getting help from the civil-rights folk. In his case, the national ACLU asserts the sting was unconstitutional, too broad and entrapment specifically. It filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Craig's attempt to withdraw his guilty plea bargain.

The arguments are specific to the Minnesota laws, including:
  • The disorderly conduct law Craig pleaded [609.72(1)(3)] to "is unconstitutionally overbroad." It "punishes 'offensive, obscene or abusive language' which reasonably tends to arouse 'alarm, anger or resentment' if the speaker knows or has reasonable grounds to know it will tend to 'alarm, anger or disturb' others."
  • It is overly broad as applied to sexual speech.
  • Even considered narrowly, this law may not apply here. The ACLU cites, "The Minnesota Supreme Court has already rules that two men engaged in sexual activity in a department store restroom with the stall door closed has a reasonable expectation of privacy."
  • The prosecution has to prove police weren't trying to entice to entrap.
The ACLU's press release puts the group in the camp that questions both motives and methods of the vice cops.
"If the police really want to stop people from having sex in public bathrooms, they should put up a sign banning sex in the restroom and send in a uniformed officer to patrol periodically. That works."
I have my doubt that this kind of support is what Craig will want in the end. It might be like in To Kill a Mocking Bird when Scout was rescued by Boo Radley, her former symbol of terror. It worked for her, but the ACLU for Craig...?

There is no sign that a substantial number of Senators of either party want to associate with Craig, much less defend him. He has kept his dubious activities in the public arena for a long, painful spell. Next week's request to withdraw will keep the spotlight on his circus ring. Now the number one liberal rights group is on his side. How much free speech can his reputation stand?

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1 comment:

Mark D. Snyder said...

Thank God for the ACLU! They are helping millions of queer people by fighting for these freedoms. This kind of police activity is a waste of time and money, and it creates a slippery slope. If you can be arrested for toe tapping, what's next?