The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says it supports another attempt by Senator Larry Craig to have his guilty plea withdrawn.
The support seems at odds with Craig’s conservative record as a Republican politician, but the organisation explains that “the Minnesota law under which he was arrested is unconstitutionally broad.”
In a statement, the ACLU, which fights for personal freedom and privacy in the US, says that “the law has the potential to ensnare and criminalise legal, constitutionally protected free speech, including solicitation for private sex.”
The organisation says that it is in no way advocating sex in public bathrooms but adds that, according to the Minnesota Supreme Court and other courts, a closed bathroom stall is a private location. “The police have no business spying on people in places where there is an expectation of privacy.”
“If law enforcement is genuinely interested in stopping sex in public bathrooms rather than ensnaring people in sting operations, posting a sign prohibiting it and announcing police patrols would be much more effective and would meet constitutional requirements,” reads the ACLU statement.
Craig was arrested in June last year in a police sting by an undercover policeman in a Minneapolis airport public bathroom. He was accused of engaging in behaviour with “a desire to engage in sexual conduct.” He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct but denied that he attempted to solicit the officer.
A first action to have his plea reversed failed, but the Senator is engaged in another endeavour to do so on the basis that his behaviour did not fall under the legal definition of disorderly conduct and that cruising signals were initiated by the officer.