Larry Craig

ACLU files another brief in defense of Craig

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union has once again come to the defense of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig.

This time, the ACLU has filed a friend-of-the-court brief that argues police violated the constitutional rights of the Idaho Republican when he was arrested in a sex sting last summer.

In its brief, filed Tuesday with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the ACLU says there's nothing illegal about soliciting private sex in a private place - in Craig's case, from an undercover police officer in a men's room stall at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

Craig's actions were constitutionally protected free speech, the ACLU argues.

"Because the government may not criminalize private sex, it may not criminalize an invitation to have private sex," the ACLU brief said. "This is even so where the invitation is extended in a public place, whether a bar or a restroom."

Craig's own brief, filed last week, seeks to overturn a lower-court decision that said he couldn't withdraw his guilty plea to disorderly conduct. Craig pleaded guilty in August to disorderly conduct. He was arrested in June.

In his brief, Craig's lawyers argued that the airport police failed to prove that the senator engaged in disorderly conduct. Even though Craig pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor, his lawyers argue that the courts should allow him to withdraw his plea because Craig's actions didn't match the state of Minnesota's definition of disorderly conduct.

Craig's initial appeal was denied when a judge ruled in October that the senator couldn't withdraw his guilty plea. The district court judge disagreed with Craig's main argument that he made a mistake when he pleaded guilty. Craig appealed that decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The arguments in Craig's appeal are expected to be heard sometime this fall.

Erika Bolstad: (202) 383-6104