Prosecutor asks judge to throw out ACLU brief defending Craig

ebolstad@mcclatchydc.comSeptember 20, 2007 

WASHINGTON -- The Minnesota prosecutor who handled Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea is asking that a judge throw out a friend-of-the-court brief written by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Craig is trying to withdraw his guilty plea and has a court appearance next week. The ACLU filed its brief Monday, saying Minneapolis airport police violated Craig's constitutional right of free speech by charging him with disorderly conduct after arresting him in an airport men's room, where police say he solicited sex from an undercover officer.

But the airport's prosecutor said the ACLU has no business filing briefs in district court proceedings. That's more appropriate for appellate courts, prosecutor Christopher Renz wrote.

Also, the remarks are "without substantive merit," the brief says, because the ACLU focused on free speech, and not Craig's other conduct: invading someone else's personal space in the most private of places, a bathroom stall.

The airport takes privacy in its restrooms seriously, according to the brief. Police started their undercover sting operation "on the heels of an incident in which a private citizen was seated in the stall, the individual next to him invaded the space of the adjacent stall and looked up the stall divider. The victim was so upset he waited for the defendant to come out of his stall and took him to a security checkpoint to call the police."

The airport is expected to file a response early next week to Craig's motion to withdraw his plea.

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