Friday, November 2, 2007

Solicitation or free speech?

In case you missed it—and you may wish you had—another Constitutional argument has entered the fray involving Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

I thought the senator’s lawyers had already offered every argument possible in their attempts to overturn his guilty plea in a bathroom sex sting in the Minneapolis airport. But I had missed the argument offered by the American Civil Liberties Union until I saw an article in The Washington Post the other day.

It seems the ACLU has submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to a Minnesota district court saying the sting was unconstitutional because the senator’s foot tapping and hand gesture in the bathroom stall were a form of expression protected by the First Amendment.

The ACLU argument goes like this: the government can arrest people for soliciting public sex only if it can prove the sex was to occur in public. Solicitation for private sex, wherever it occurs, is protected by the First Amendment.

Now, I am a big believer in the First Amendment, but I have never encountered this interpretation before. Help me lawyers--is this a fair interpretation of the First Amendment or too big a stretch?

-TOM LINTHICUM, Executive Editor

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