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. DvlsAdvocat

    Craig, please, retreat back into your closet and leave the governing to those who are at least honest with themselves. Barney Frank is openly gay, and his constituents are fine with that. of course, he didn't openly lobby against homosexual behavior for his entire career either, so i guess the hypocrisy has got you in a bind, huh?

    Tell me, how is foot tapping "protected speech", unless you admit that you were in fact trying to communicate something to the person in the stall next to you?

    Exit, stage right....

    September 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. eric

    AAHHHAHAHAHAHAH!!! This can't be real. So let me guess, so long as no one sees you having sex in a public place, then it's ok? In fact, the act is ok because it's protected under an individuals right to privacy since they took adequate steps to hide while doing it? What a joke! I'm so glad this is coming back to the fore just when the country needs a reminder of another disgusting, hypocritical Republican.

    September 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. Queen For A Day

    Shhhh...the queen is going to speak tomorrow. She'll be fabulous, she'll smile, wave, and pretend she knows how to run the lower 48, and the rest of her subjects from afar.

    Maybe she'll say "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks..." That always works the crowd into a frenzy. Or maybe she'll wrinkle her litttle nose and pretend she really did sell an airplane on EBay. Who knows what she'll do? But whatever she does, after 11 days of ducking and dodging the press (so that her camp could vet her), it won't be nearly enough.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    I will boycott Damon's movies and any product he endorses. i think he is an idiot. He should stay out of politics. He is a clown.

    Obama thinks that pigs are women or gays, since the only ones I know using lipstick are women and gay people. How dare he call our woman pigs. He is a terrible person.

    He called me and thousands of mid westerners bitter and now he calls woman pigs. I wonder if he is referring to white women or all women?

    He is a bully of the worst kind.

    September 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Steve in Wyoming

    Funny, now ol' Larry's a civil rights liberal.

    September 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    A GOP pervert digging his heels in when he has become the laughing-stock of the country. Go AWAY larry...

    September 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. Pennsylvania Voter

    Okay, while this is not really news, it is hilarious. Well done, CNN.

    September 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Matt

    I can't believe that the Liberal government arrested an honest Republican for tapping his foot in the bathroom. How low can the Liberals who run our country sink? The Liberals can't win elections fairly, so they make up lies about good Republicans like Senator Craig. It's just impossible for him to be gay. He's married. And only Democrats are gay.

    September 10, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. william

    Look I don't have anything against those who are Gay but I would like it if the Republicans wouldn’t have mislead the American people by tell them that they were the most moral people in America. Bush, pretty much won the 2001 election by telling the American people that he was against Gays. How could that be when he has a lot of them work with him in the White House? And I wish the Republicans would stop tell the American people that they are the most moral party. I don't think nether Democrats or Republicans are. The Republicans just need to stop telling Lies.

    September 10, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. MD, TX

    The Ethics committee accuses Craig of improper behavior but stays silent on Rangel. Go figure.

    September 10, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. m.e.

    I wish this lying sleazeball would just go away quietly. But no, he lingers on and on and he'll probably get off. And of course, the arresting cop was a total idiot and had NO idea what he was talking about.

    September 10, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Al Ram

    Sen. Craig if you still have a little shame left in the fiber of your body, please stop tamperring with the First Amendment. To many of us Americans this is part of the Constitution and therefore, SACRED. You did something wrong and you admitted it so suffer the consequences of your actions. Or better still just resigned and continue what you want to do.

    September 10, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. arc, Lugano CH

    Find him a Palin of his own to stand next to him and all is forgiven.

    September 10, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Mrs.L

    He was soliciting homosexual sex No matter how his buddies try to repaint that picture. This another example of Repugs lie,lie,lie

    September 10, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. doob

    typical republican hypocrite!

    September 10, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Nick

    Give us a break ... He knows he went in that restroom stall and knew that he was looking for sex with someone from the other stall ... I don't know what kind of sex , butt he definately knew that he was seeking someone in the other stall to be interested in performing some kind of sexual act ... GUILTY , as far as the tapping of the foot and the first ammendment , ballony

    September 10, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. Palin Rules

    Go home pumas, we won this election without you. And take Hillary with you. We don't need angry women in this campaign.

    Palin 2012

    September 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. GARedNeck

    HA, HA, HA, HA, HA – what a card you are!

    September 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. DB

    Why are we even talking about this? This is such a waste of time for everyone and is so irrelevant.

    September 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. fella from Chicago

    Need to put Rangel in the next stall. If he comes out rubbing his backside, much for the First Amendment test.

    September 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. Kelby from Houston, TX

    Oh the funniest case of republican hypocrisy has returned. This case was so funny to me, that I seriously considered writing a screenplay about it. (a comedy of errors of course) This was and is the funniest politcal story EVER!!! And it is so obvious that he is so guilty.

    Yes foot tapping is protected, but having sex in public is not. Make it last Larry! I need new material

    September 10, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. tnguy2

    Boy, talk about grasping for anything they can!

    September 10, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Oh CNN ....

    With so much you bring up a story about Craig????

    Trying to remind people about that he is a Republican??????


    September 10, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |


    September 10, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. jfs Memhis, Tn

    I hardly think that the fathers of the Constitution and the FIRST Ammendment wanted to protect a guy trying to make Homosexual contact in a bathroom stall( they did not have indoor plumbing back then) at an airport( They did not have planes back then) in Minneapolis. Minnesota ( wasn't a state nor a territory back then). That's the thoughts of this somewhat lieral person. Funny how conservatives find lberal interpretations of the Constitution when they need it.

    September 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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