Saturday, October 06, 2007

"The exploring eyes of predatory restroom stalkers"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Speaking of Larry Craig -- which I just did -- I've been meaning over the past couple of days to comment on the most recent developments of his ignominious fall.

As the Times put it: Craig "said Thursday that he would remain in the Senate through next year despite a court ruling against him in Minnesota, where he had sought to rescind his guilty plea stemming from an undercover sex sting." Which is to say, he's flip-flopped big-time on the whole resignation thing. He won't run for re-election, but he intends to stay in the Senate until his current term is up in January 2009.

Which is really bad news for Republicans, who correctly see Craig as a huge problem and who would prefer it if he left town, and got out of their hair, well in advance of next year's elections, but which is really good news for Democrats, who correctly see Craig as a huge problem for their opponents and who would prefer it if he stayed in town, remained in their hair, and continued to be a major embarrassment for them right through the elections, a huge reminder to voters of so much that is wrong with the Republican Party.

But let me quote in full a post by Eve Fairbanks at TNR's The Plank, which hits the main points:

Bad day for Larry Craig: His request to rescind his guilty plea in Stancegate was denied, in a withering decision that totally undermines Craig's claims that he made his guilty plea hastily. Craig spoke with the prosecuting attorney "many times" about his options and, with his plea, even included a handwritten note thanking the prosecutor for his "cooperation" (isn't that a creepy, condescending word?). But apparently Craig isn't resigning, despite this temporary setback. That noise you hear right now is the simultaneous screams of Mitch McConnell's entire leadership staff.

The funniest thing about the judge's decision, though, is the way it illuminates a point of confusion that emerged during the Craig affair: What law, exactly, governs toilet space? As it turns out, there's a bulk of precedent:

A person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public restroom stall. State v. Ulmer ... see also State v. Bryant ... The Ulmer court gave the following rationale: The design of the restroom here affords a user more than a modicum of privacy by virtue of the partitions that separate the urinals. When a person steps up to a urinal, the partitions and the user's body create a space in which the user would quite expect to be free from even incidental observation, let alone from the exploring eyes of predatory restroom stalkers. (my emphasis)

"Exploring eyes" is kind of poetic.

Indeed. Far more poetic than those Republicans screams.

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