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. James

    LMAO @ this guy and LMAO @ Palin and LMAO @ all of her supporters. All these people are useless.

    September 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. steve

    I agree. If the policeman was offended he should have left the room. The first amendment is a very important factor in the case.

    There is no way a republican would have acted inappropriately. I think this policeman should be fired and sent to Alaska to kill wolves from airplanes.

    To save the moose of course!

    September 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. LifeLongDemocrat

    Larry, for the sake of your family admit what you did and move on! You're another one of those phony Republicans just like Sarah Palin!

    September 10, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. RIP Bill Maher's Career, NY,NY

    Mr. Craig is small minded.

    Yes, that's all the material I have.

    September 10, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Rob

    Craig should visit Palins church. They have a program by which they pray over you and then you are straight. No I am not kidding.
    Then when God destroys the world very soon. Craig will be allowed to be a refugee in Alaska which according to Palins church will be spared by God. See, it's all good now.

    September 10, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Whining About Karl Rove Means You Have No Response or Clue

    I think VP-Elect Palin would be displeased with Mr. Carig's behavior.

    And that Senator Obama would merely vote "PRESENT!!!!" if Craig were brought before a joint session to be censured.

    September 10, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. Poor Mrs. Craig

    Craig's wife looked so pitiful. She looked as if she knew his little secret, and was mortified that she had to stand there in public to support him.

    Craig and McCain are two peas in the same pod. It doesn't matter is they lie, it matters if America believes the lie.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 10, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Whining About Karl Rove Means You Have No Response or Clue

    Senator Obama's official position on this:


    September 10, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |

    So, is leering at the cute young officer's exposed "package" through the crack in the door while rubbing the old woody covered by the Constitution, Republicans!

    Republicans are such hypocrites!!!

    September 10, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Amy C

    Is it me, or does he look like a cross between Karl Rove and Dick Cheny?

    Obama / Biden '08!

    September 10, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. Rachelbsw


    Innocent until proven guilty doesn't apply, the man plead GUILTY, and is now trying to take it back.
    If you want to see how that would work for a normal citizen, try peeing on a building, pleading guilty and then trying to change your mind about it.

    September 10, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Former Hillary Supporter Voting 4 McCain/Palin

    Obama's official position on this issue:


    September 10, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. bob in LA

    Life Liberty and the persuit of happiness- the basis of our constitution. I think the real issue here is the where. A public restroom tete e tete are a little too in your face. Picking up the guy, and going elsewhere would have been protected under privacy laws but he never got to go that far.
    The real reason for being irate is the man's public stand on homosexuals in general. Why is ti that so many very vocal people are closeted preditors of all sorts? to me, that is the real difference between a Clinton affair and Craigs possible one. Clinton never pulbicly denounced what he did before being caught.

    September 10, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. R

    while i think this story should be taken seriously, i find this lawyer entertaining

    September 10, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |

    Certainly, not me, unless it is green and the 1 is followed by multiple zero's

    Nice try Craig, but we are not buying it.

    September 10, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  16. Ken

    Ahhh! Another patriotic [R] taking a principled view of our constitution. It brings tears to the eye.

    It seems the hypocrisy of [R] true-believers knows no bounds.

    If this 1st Amendment argument flies, terrorists throughout the country will be meeting and tapping away in our bathroom stalls. And FISA will have to be re-written yet again.

    September 10, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Jon

    Craig should get the McCain/Palin PR team to work for him. They've got lying to the public down to a science.

    September 10, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. Bodysnatchers

    This just makes me sick..

    September 10, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. Daryl from Seattle

    Funny how most of the scandals that involve Republicans are them doing something that they're so outspoken against.

    September 10, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. mayah

    Dress it up.... the republicans way... still a lie

    September 10, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Napoleon Complex

    Former Hillary Supporter Voting 4 McCain/Palin: Ouch! That really hurt. Maybe you could repeat this lame joke another three times under different psuedonyms. BTW, we all know you're a Republican operative.

    September 10, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |

    woman with husbands get tested for hiv or std's, what should be protected is womans rights against cheating husbands.

    September 10, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. Kayropro

    LAME - You are making a fool of yourself once again. Open the closet door and step out. Your poor family should not be subjected to any more of this foolishness.

    September 10, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. He has a wide stance

    Best quote ever.

    September 10, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. Tim

    Oh please. This Senator is just another hypocrite that says one thing for all the country to hear (and, of course, obey) while he goes out and does something else. My God these people really do believe that the rest of the citizens of this great country are lemmings and will follow them off any cliff.

    Maybe it's just me, but I think most ultra conservatives just need to step out-of-the-closet and be true to themselves AND quit trying to appear what they are not.

    September 10, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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