Would Larry Craig Have Had a Case If He Came Out?

That’s the question the Minnesota Branch of the ACLU raised today, arguing that Craig’s refusal to acknowledge his sexuality hindered his lawyers from making his arrest two years ago for soliciting a police officer in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom stall into a civil rights case.

The Minnesota Independent interviewed ACLU-MN President Charles Samuelson about Craig’s decision to make the case about his guilty plea, rather than his sexuality:

“[The Supreme Court] can only take what his lawyers bring,” Samuelson said, and Craig had his attorneys bring only “a very small and limited technical issue about his guilty plea.”

But Samuelson said an appeal might have been effective had Craig made civil liberties arguments that the ACLU-MN raised in a friend-of-the-court brief. “Our issues would probably be more attractive to the [state] Supreme Court,” Samuelson said.

The ACLU-MN asserted that Craig’s arrest in a police sting meant to ensnare men seeking gay sex at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport men’s room was a classic example of government suppression of unpopular speech.

“The problem is he was reluctant to say he’s a gay man,” Samuelson said, adding that Craig’s recent retirement from office likely lowered the stakes beyond the point at which Craig would press his case, no matter what the issue.”