Out of the men's room, Larry Craig taps toes with the ACLU

The civil-rights organization says no crime took place, so it's helping a senator who otherwise would be a political foe.
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U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. (U.S. Senate)

The civil-rights organization says no crime took place, so it's helping a senator who otherwise would be a political foe.

It now looks like Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, is very serious about trying to keep his job while adding to evidence he's a world-class hypocrite. A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union says his group filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the disgraced senator following a request from Craig's lawyers. The ACLU supports Craig's efforts to withdraw a guilty plea after his encounter with a police officer in a Minneapolis men's room. Among other arguments, the brief says Craig's communications with the officer, who interpreted his gestures as soliciting sex, were protected free speech. The police report from the June incident described Craig as tapping the officer's foot and waving his hand, but no sex was alleged. Craig has virtually no friends left in politics. Conservative groups in Idaho have said he should resign. Republican senators want him gone. The ACLU had no reason to want him in office, giving him low approval ratings in recent years. And yet, though it got little attention nationally, the ACLU in Minneapolis raised questions about the case when it was disclosed earlier this month, according to Charles Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota office. Craig's attorney in Minnesota didn't want the ACLU's help, but that changed when the senator's attorneys in Washington got involved. "When he was arrested, we made several comments that this was the kind of thing the police had been doing for decades and that we had been opposing for decades," Samuelson said. So in other words, Craig as defendant sought help from those he would have spurned as senator. "Sen. Craig has not always been a great friend of civil liberties, but you shouldn't have to endorse the civil liberties of others to keep your own," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the national ACLU in New York. Craig returned to the U.S. Capitol today, giving every indication that he's wants to tough it out. He might be conflicted about his sexual urges, unsteady in conclusions about this guilt and contrition, but he's certain about love for one thing, his job. We've seen this before. For some, it's almost impossible to walk away from a seat in the U.S. Senate. For many, the loathsomeness of Craig has overwhelmed consideration of the issues surrounding his arrest. Sure, Craig did plead guilty, but many of those crowing about his downfall never liked his judgment anyway. So that leaves the ACLU to do the right thing and ask the unpopular question: What crime was committed here?


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O. Casey Corr

O. Casey Corr is a Seattle native, author and marketing communications consultant.