ACLU Gets Behind Idaho Senator Larry Craig

The American Civil Liberties Union has come out today in the defense of Idaho Senator Larry Craig, whose widely publicized guilty plea for “disorderly conduct” related to his arrest in a Minneapolis men’s room led to the lawmaker’s resignation from the Senate.

The ACLU contends that “it doesn’t matter whether he solicited sex because that’s not a crime,” according to ABC News.

LarrycraigmugshotSaid ACLU executive director Anthony Romero: “We believe the sting operation used to apprehend Mr. Craig was unconstitutional. The statute the government is relying upon makes it a crime to use certain offensive words…It is a crime to have sex in public. It is not a crime to propose or solicit sex in public, whether it’s in a bar or in a bathroom. We clearly lay out what is the doctrine in terms of what speech is and is not protected. To be able to solicit sex in private, in public spaces, for instance, is constitutionally protected speech.”

The Washington Post, in an editorial published over the weekend, said “More than gestures should be required to charge someone with a crime.”

Craig reportedly sent a letter of apology to his Senate colleagues late last week: “The letter went directly to fellow senators. It accompanied a copy of the motion that Craig (R., Idaho) filed Monday in Hennepin County, Minn., courts, seeking to undo his Aug. 1 guilty plea to a disorderly-conduct misdemeanor…Craig’s spokesman, Dan Whiting, said that he had not seen the letter or the Roll Call article that first mentioned it but that he was aware of it. He described it yesterday as merely a ‘simple cover letter’ for the legal filings. It went out to Craig’s colleagues this week “so that senators, if they wanted, could read it without the media filter,” Whiting said in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, more than one person has decided to visit the Minneapolis airport men’s room where the whole incident began: “Royal Zino, who works at the shoeshine shop next to the public lavatory, said ‘it’s been crazy. People have been going inside, taking pictures of the stall, taking pictures outside the bathroom door.'”

ACLU Backs Senator Larry Craig [abc news]


  1. says

    Now I’ve heard it all. And was the Senator required to check the ID of the anonymous person in the other stall to determine if he was soliciting a minor? Oh yes, in this case, he starred at the cop and his dick for two minutes through the crack outside the stall so he made a reasonable determination that his target was an adult. The ACLU is out of its mind. I can’t wait for Jay Leno tonight.

  2. says

    Johnny Lane, but he didn’t solicit a minor. If he had, or if he offered money for sex, then there would be the crime. As the ACLU has stated, soliciting sex (in general) is not a crime, no matter where you are.

    There was never any accusations that he stared at the cops dick through the crack in the door. If the cop’s dick was exposed and visible, then that would have been an inappropriate action on the part of the cop.

  3. ROB says

    But the ACLU’s defense seems contingent upon the assumption that he indeed was soliciting sex, as their only admission is that this was his constitutional right. Is this such a help to Mr. “I’m not gay” after all? Whether or not the police conduct was lawful is kind of a moot point now to the Craig camp since it seems the world at large agrees on one simple truth: Senator Craig likes dick. I see delicious irony in the ACLU’s defense of Senator Craig.

  4. peterparker says

    I think it is HILARIOUS that this piece of shit, closeted man who has pushed numerous homophobic pieces of legislation was exposed as a closet case who solicits anonymous sex in bathroom stalls. However, I completely agree with the ACLU that no crime ever occurred. And I’ve been fairly horrified from the beginning that the police are wasting their time busting gay men for sex…yes, even sex in a public place.

  5. Naha says

    The ACLU is totally correct, and I applaud them for defending such an asswipe. He is a deranged, heinous hypocrite, and he might have done something gross or morally questionable… but ILLEGAL? No.

  6. anon ( says

    He wasn’t charged with soliciting, so they cannot do more than defend his supposed intent. Even if the ACLU were to win this case, other charges could still be pressed in these cases, the only out would be that you could, in theory, directly ask someone for sex instead of all the hand signals. That would be an odd turn of events!

  7. Gianpiero says

    Much as I loved to see this creep’s hypocrisy exposed, I’m glad that someone is at least raising these questions. The incident was characterized repeatedly from the beginning as a “gay sex scandal.” Scandal, certainly, but swiping your hand on the bottom of a stall divider is no kind of sex (gay or otherwise) that I’m familiar with. Not likely, of course, but maybe the man just wanted a jellybean…

  8. hill_w says

    So now he WAS soliciting sex? I thought he was just assuming a wide stance. Right on, Rob–you nailed it.

  9. says

    All the tea room queens have chimed in. If this is what you would have your elected officials doing in public restrooms, then what’s next? If you are behind the ACLU on this one, you have serious mental problems. And Bryce, what the hell do you think he was staring at, a fully clothed man sitting on the toilet?

  10. DB says

    The ACLU is completely correct. Policemen waiting in bathroom stalls, soliciting sex, then arresting those who respond is entrapment.

  11. Tread says

    Johnny Lane:

    As deplorable as it may seem for you, the ACLU defends the rights of all Americans, not just one side. Craig, as reprehensible as the man is, was pretty clearly arrested for next to nothing.

  12. Ernie says

    I can only echo DB and Tread’s to-the-correct-point opinions. As much as I relish Larry getting his just hypocrisy desserts, bravo ACLU for recognizing entrapment and bogus arrests when they see them.

  13. says

    Tread, you are hopelessly misinformed as are the rest of you defending the ACLU’s stance on this issue. Go back and carefully listen to the interrogation audio which outlines the entire sequence of events. Craig’s actions were an overt solicitation. I owned a high volume gay bar for seven years and I had to deal with this from time to time. The vast majority of incidents happened during happy hour and it was always old trolls that looked just like Craig. I know the law, the city ordinances and the alcoholic beverage commission code. As a bar owner in Texas, you are required to use your best efforts to make sure nothing illegal is happening on the premises. Otherwise you are subject to losing your license and/or paying very high fines. I have also paid to have my attorney review statues on this exact issue. My attorney also represented a chain of gyms that had to deal with the same problem.

    The facts are that the vast majority of the customers in these establishments, gay or straight, do not want to be subjected or exposed to this deviant behavior. In every case, these are serial offenders who are sex addicts that “work” stalls at universities, libraries, bars, malls and department stores. And if you are arrested and found guilty in Texas, then you are forever labeled a “sex offender” which requires that you be registered with your residence address and photograph posted on the internet.

    And I can also tell you, that the last thing my customers wanted was to be solicited for some worthless restroom b/j. The offender was ejected and barred every damn time!

    But, all of this has nothing to do with the reality of the situation. Who in their right mind would want sex with a stranger in this day and age? You are subjecting yourself to a host of diseases which cannot be cured and are easily transmitted to others. Public health clinics then have to deal with treating these people at taxpayer expense. And they go to great time and expense to inform all of those who had sex with the individual.

    A public restroom is no place for this type of activity and if you think it is then you need the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist. And for the record, I won’t be told or convinced otherwise by anyone.

  14. DB says

    Johnny, if the officer had observed Craig having sex in public and arrested him then I would agree with you, that’s not what happened. The officer stationed himself in the restroom and pretended to be available for sex so that he could entice someone into responding. This is entrapment and it should be illegal. It’s completely different from the situations you describe and whether we like it or understand it the ACLU is right.

  15. Tread says

    Johnny Lane:

    Texas gay bar ≠ Minnesota airport restroom stall.

    Aside from that, stop putting words in my mouth that I’m supporting bathroom/public sex acts. I don’t. I’ve been solicited for sex in bathrooms, myself, and have forcefully told the offender that he better keep his fucking hands off me, lest he’s willing to lose his balls.

    Craig’s actions may have been an overt solicitation, but the cop went along with it. From the reports I read, Craig didn’t do more than wave his hand under the stall at which point the cop flashed his badged underneath the stall wall. Now, if Craig had stuck his dick underneath the stall, then it clearly would have been a clearcut case of lewd behavior. However, it’s pretty clear he was entrapped by the encouraging actions of the arresting officer. The ACLU’s stance is correct.

  16. Ernie says

    I won’t try to convince you of anything, Johnny, but your post is filled with presumptions. Speaking of taxpayer expense, some of us would argue that restroom sting operations aren’t the best use of police time and money.

  17. anon ( says

    “Johnny Lane” sounds like a porn star name, but the argument boils down to this: you are saying that everyone should obey the law and the others are saying the law should change. What the ACLU is trying to do is make a change in administrative law, which is different from statutory law in that administrative law is a product of bureaucratic policy making, not legislative action, though in theory it follows from legislative intent. The idea is that “experts” will fill in the blanks for the legislature after the law is passed. Think of all the rules the IRS creates every year and you get the idea.

    Now, we have a severe problem philosophically with what might be called intent here versus method. What the law attempts to do in this case is ban a method of solicitation that is “prone to indecency”. After all, if someone buys someone a drink at a gay bar, the cops don’t rush in a charge them with solicitation, even if that intent is as clear as day, and there is even the exchange of assets normally thought to be a sign of prostitution (use cash instead of alcohol and see what happens). Normally, the courts give great deference to differentiating methods in administrative law, so asking for sex while in a bathroom would be out, while asking for sex while sitting on bar stools would be in, and that would be fine by the courts. The ACLU is suggesting that as long as the method itself is not illegal the method of expressing intent itself should not be criminalized–bars, bathrooms or church–it shouldn’t matter. At the very least, it should be taken out of administrative law. However, they have a mountain to climb because Craig was charged with invasion of privacy, an illegal method of solicitation that would have to be taken off the books for him to get cleared (technically similar to him using a gun to solicit sex if you need a clearly illegal method as an example).

    It gets even worse in the case of gay bars because you get into the legal framework of the assumption of expectations. If you wander into a gay bar and see men kissing, calling the police to have them arrested for soliciting and lewdness would probably not work, owing to assumption that such activity would be expected in a gay bar setting. However, in many places the lack of such an assumption can lead to charges if gay men kiss in other public places, particularly those where children might typically be found. Thus, wandering into a bathroom in a gay bar might carry the assumption of continued solicitation (in some jurisdictions), while presumably not in airport bathrooms. Which means that Craig would not be charged in one setting while he would be charged in the other. If this seems crazy, remember that in sports like hockey the players can’t charge each other with battery if they get checked because they assume the risk of getting checked as an expected aspect of the game. If one player shot another one on the ice it would be a different matter because that would not be expected, or if you “checked” a guy on the street it would be a different matter also.