ST. PAUL, Minn. — Idaho Sen. Larry Craig will argue before an appeals court that Minnesota's disorderly conduct law is unconstitutional as it applies to his conviction in a bathroom sex sting, according to a new court filing.
This is the first time Craig's attorneys have raised that issue. However, an earlier friend-of-the-court filing by the American Civil Liberties Union argued that Craig's foot-tapping and hand gesture under a stall divider at the Minneapolis airport are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.
Craig has been trying to withdraw his August guilty plea to disorderly conduct. A judge turned him down earlier this month, and now Craig is taking his request to the state Court of Appeals. The conservative Republican at one point said he would resign from the U.S. Senate but now says he will finish his term, which ends in January 2009.
Craig's legal arguments are previewed in a "statement of the case" filed late Thursday. In addition to the constitutional argument, it says the judge erred by not allowing Craig to withdraw his plea and that the judge who sentenced Craig to a fine and probation never signed anything saying he accepted the guilty plea.
Craig was arrested in June by an undercover police officer who said the senator moved his foot next to the officer's foot and tapped it in a way that indicated he wanted sex. He was also accused of sending a signal by swiping his hand under the divider between the stalls. Craig said the officer misconstrued those motions.
Craig's attorneys are due to file formal briefs on the matter by mid-December, and they asked to make an oral argument before the appeals court judges in St. Paul. No hearing has been scheduled.
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