October 4, 2007

He's Just Gonna Have To Swallow This One

Senator Larry Craig’s petition to withdraw his plea of guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport restroom has been denied.  The judge was not kind to the Senator’s petition, characterized as “illogical”:  “During the two months between the arrest and the guilty plea, the Defendant had several rational and methodical conversations with the prosecutor, including one in which the prosecutor extended a plea offer and advised the Defendant to consult an attorney. … The Defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of, at least, above-average intelligence.  He knew what he was saying, reading, and signing.”   furthermore, the court found that any political pressure that Senator Craig may have felt was not the result of any misconduct on the part of an actor within the Minnesota criminal justice system. 


Interestingly, the ACLU filed a brief in support of Senator Craig, arguing that Craig’s conduct should not constitute a crime.  The Court disagreed and upheld the constitutionality of the admittedly broadly-worded disorderly conduct statute, as other Minnesota courts have interpreted it.  The ACLU is often accused of being effectively a partisan liberal organization, but here, it advocated for a Republican, albeit a Republican who had engaged in an attempted gay frolic.*  But it’s only very rarely upstanding people doing admirable things who are in need of the ACLU and reliance on their Constitutional rights.  Instead, it’s people like Larry Craig who need to explore the limits of the protections afforded by the law.


Craig had said that if his petition to withdraw his guilty plea were denied, he would resign.  We’ll see how that actually plays out.  It won’t affect the political balance of power at all – a Democrat couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Idaho – but it does constitute another bit of political baggage Republicans really don’t need to be carrying right about now.


* That’s a great word, “frolic,” isn’t it?  Precise, distinctive, and vaguely onomatopoeic.

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