Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Catholic Anti-War Demonstrators May Not Assert "Necessity" Defense

In United States v. McSweeney, (D MA, July 24, 2008), a federal magistrate judge denied a motion by a group of anti-Iraq War demonstrators that they be permitted to raise a defense of "necessity" in their trial. Defendants, members of the Catholic Worker Movement, entered a Worcester (MA) federal courthouse and, without a permit, dropped to their knees and began to pray for an end to Iraq war. After they finished they were arrested on charges of obstructing entrances, obstructing official business and failing to comply with directions of US Marshals. The court ruled that the criteria necessary to assert a defense of "necessity" are not present in this kind of civil disobedience case. Today's Worcester (MA) Telegram reports on the decision.