September 10th, 2008
04:42 PM ET
10 years ago

Foot tapping protected by First Amendment, Craig's lawyer says

Craig's attorney said foot tapping may be protected by the First Amendment.

Craig's attorney said foot tapping may be protected by the First Amendment.

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - In an effort to persuade a three-judge panel to throw out Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea, his attorney suggested Wednesday that his foot tapping in an airport men's room may have been protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The Idaho Republican was arrested in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in June 2007, after an undercover police officer accused him of soliciting sex by using hand signals and tapping his foot in a bathroom stall.

Two months after his arrest, and without consulting a lawyer, Craig later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

In addition to suggesting that First Amendment may be involved, Craig's lawyer, Billy Martin, also argued before the Minnesota Court of Appeals panel that no one besides the arresting officer saw the hand signals and foot tapping, which would mean no one else was offended by the behavior and, thus, make the disorderly conduct charge invalid.

Martin also suggested that the judge who previously heard Craig's case had mishandled his attempt to have his guilty plea thrown out.

Prosecuting attorney Chris Renz dismissed the idea that Craig's foot tapping was covered by the First Amendment, arguing that no one but the officer in the adjoining stall could have heard the tapping.
In February, the Senate Ethics Committee issued a "letter of admonition" to Craig in connection to the case.

In the letter, the committee accused him of improper conduct and said his actions reflected "discreditably" on the chamber.

The committee also criticized Craig for using more than $200,000 from campaign funds to pay legal fees related to his case and for flashing his Senate business card at the officer who arrested him. The letter said that move could be seen as an improper attempt to receive "special and favorable treatment."

Craig initially said he would resign after the incident was reported in the media but later decided to remain in the Senate and fight to have his guilty plea thrown out. But the three-term senator did not seek re-election this year and will retire when his term ends in January.

Filed under: Larry Craig
soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Doug

    For all of you social conservatives out there, I say this:

    When Democrats have illicit affairs, they go heterosexual.

    When Republicans do it, it is nearly always a gay relationship.

    Now there's a platform plank that needs to change, eh?

    September 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. Carl

    Proof that the only thing worse than a lawyer is a politician

    God help us all

    September 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. how

    ANOTHER sample of what the Republican's true family values it will be OFF LIMITS!.....

    Same old McCain style of SHAME.

    That's right, he said Palin was going to CLEAN Washington up....that means dieing wouldn't be the only reason for his replacement......Out of his own mouth....Washington headline: White House full of replacements by Palin soldiers from Alaska (those that helped her sell the plane on Ebay).

    September 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. John Stevens

    Just what the Founding Fathers wanted to protect.

    September 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. Phoenix

    That's awesome. I'm sorry. I'm no fan of Craig's, but boy when you have a little money... You can really get away with some things.

    September 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. lovable liberal

    Don't forget that it's David Vitter watch, day 426.

    September 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. Jazz

    Ronald Regan was an actor and republicans listened to him for eight years. What does that tell you about their mentality

    September 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. He's Smarter than he looks!

    Foot tapping? Protected by the first amendment? Exactly that the Founding Fathers were probably thinking!

    September 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Rick atl


    September 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. Marlon Walker

    I am a little concern about the Republican Party. Why does John McCain and Shara Palin keep repeating their conventional speaches? I knew Shara sparked some fire for the republicans, but right now she and John McCain sounds like brokens record. Why do they have to repeat themselve everytime? Could they have the same message dilivered in a diffent style or they are just trying to hypnonize the American people? Be aware.

    September 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. darko

    Good lord. Put this story to bed already.

    September 10, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. thomas

    Larry Craig has no integrity but I find it difficult to understand who was actually harmed by his actions in the bathroom at the Minneapolis airport. I prefer to save my outrage for those who kill, injure, or prey upon others. Blood is harder to wash away than dirt.

    September 10, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Ilene

    I want to say something about the previous story on here...the Matt Damon thing. All of you naysayers talk about him being a Hollywood person with no right to say anything.

    WRONG...he is also a voter. And to all you hypocrits, what do you call GOVERNOR Schwarenagger - where did he come from? Siberia - no Hollywood...what about Reagan - ANOTHER ACTOR!!! It appears that the only time you go against a Hollywood sort is when they are from the opposite party.


    September 10, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Rich

    Craig should just announce he is gay and was indeed trying to pick up a dude in the bathroom and save everyone else's time. The man is closet challenged. He knows it, and do everybody else. Boy...denial is a killer.

    September 10, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. DMAC in ID/ Independent thinking

    Iam upset with Sen. Craig for something I found out he did to a bill in the Senate several months ago. But this whole thing in that bathroom is over blown. And a cop that was over zellous. Maybe he was behind on arrests, I don't know. But the big mess seems strange to me. Something is not ringing right with the cops side.

    September 10, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |

    The Republicans are all old too. I don't like the Ad McCain run
    on Old Politicans. Isn't that like the kettle calling the pot Black.
    LIES, And MORE LIES from the Republicans ads and from
    their mouths.

    September 10, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. EB

    This man is sick.

    September 10, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. Tony

    This man is ridiculous. He is a Republican senator that has disgraced his party and state. Except he's not the first or even the second Republican in the last few years involved in homosexual sex scandals. I am curious as to why the 'in the closet party' doesn't support equal rights for gays. Maybe that would be to obvious? Also why is the 'in the closet party' made up almost entirely of old white men? Are they afraid of the chorizo or chorizo negro?

    September 10, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. RIP Keith Olbermann's Career, NY,NY

    How much would you like to wager that Olbermann and Rachel Madcow run with non-story this as their lead stories tonight rather than the # of times Obama and Biden have put their feet in their mouths in the last 24 hours.

    Shameful that CNN feels compelled to follow suit.

    September 10, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Trevor P

    Ok he may be allowed to tap his foot in a bathroom...but what about rubbing his hand under the edge of the stall wall? That's obviously a sign that you want some lovin'.

    September 10, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Brad

    So foot tapping is protected speech but it's OK to carry out preemptive raids on independent journalists in St Paul before the RNC?

    Something is rotten in Minnesota.

    September 10, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |

    LOL...this guy is such a joke

    September 10, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Pam

    LMAO!! Can't wait to see this case go to the Supreme Court!

    September 10, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. John McCain Sold Us Out

    Matt Damon:

    Matt Damon is an American and he has a right to say what he wants. You may not agree with him, but hey I don't agree with you.

    Thanks Matt, once again, you have shown that you're more than a hot hollywood actor, but you are an American with a brain. You are absolutely right, we don't know Sarah, and we won't know her before the election. Unfortunately she is being used as a ploy to get votes for McCain, not to be a serious leader of this great country.

    Like John McCain left his wife in the dust, he is leaving the high ideals and principles of this great country in the dust. His campaign slogan says "country first", but what that really means is John McCain first. First he'll become president, and then he'll tell us what we can do with our voices. The ones that will be protesting the numorous wars he will be waging.

    September 10, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. undecided in ohio

    Enough already, Larry – it's time to come out of the closet...

    Grow a pair!

    September 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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