January 16, 2008
St. Paul, Minn (The Weekly Vice) - Politics sometimes create strange bedfellows and the combined forces of imploded Republican Senator Larry Craig and the ACLU is an excellent example of that.
Sen. Craig was arrested back in June, 2007 for allegedly soliciting gay sex from an undercover officer in an airport bathroom stall. Craig denies the charge, insisting his actions were misconstrued.
Now the ACLU has entered the case and insists that sex in a bathroom stall is private. The ACLU is arguing that even if Craig did invite the officer for sex, it would be considered a private act within the closed confines of a bathroom stall.
"The government cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Senator Craig was inviting the undercover officer to engage in anything other than sexual intimacy that would not have called attention to itself in a closed stall in the public restroom," the ACLU wrote in its brief. photo credit Susan Walsh (AP)
The Weekly Vice Reaction:
So, is the ACLU right? Is a bathroom stall legally a private place? If the Judge rules that it isn't, does that give folks the right to bust in and have a smoke while you do whatever it is that you do in a stall?
If the Judge says it is a private place, are you allowed to invite a friend to come appreciate the private place you've found?
Forgetting for a moment the alarming mental image that tags along with this entire topic, what is the correct answer from a legal standpoint, using the laws on the books? What should the law say?
The Weekly Vice predicts the answer will be that a public stall cannot be considered private. Privacy, private and private property all play out differently in the law. While you are provided a sense of privacy with bathroom stall partitions, you are still in a public place.
We won't get into the legal dynamics of all of that - but rest assurred, the ACLU is barnstorming this issue with the wrong chapter of law. Privacy rights and public lewdness come from completely different chapters of law, and we think the Judge will opt for precident on the matter instead of trying to marry the two issues together.
What is your opinion on this issue?