Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Court Orders More Briefs On RFRA Defense By Peace Protesters

In an Order last week in United States v. Kelly, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138195, (SD GA, Aug. 15, 2018), a Georgia federal magistrate judge instructed both sides to provide additional briefing on the "particularized issues raised by Defendants' RFRA defense" in the prosecution of peace activists for breaking into Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. Defendants argue that their "symbolic disarmament" of nuclear weapons at the base was an exercise of their sincerely held Catholic beliefs.  In ordering additional briefs, the court said in part:
At the August 2, 2018 motions hearing, counsel for both the Government and Defendants represented to the Court that Defendants' RFRA claim as a defense to criminal prosecution was an issue of first impression and that the applicability of RFRA to federal criminal law was an open question.... Subsequent to the hearing, however, the Government filed Supplemental Briefing that acknowledged RFRA's applicability to criminal prosecutions and its availability as a defense.... The Government now contends that Defendants' actions ... were not religious in nature and ... even assuming they were, the Government contends it has a compelling interest in protecting Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay....
Brunswick News reports on the court's Order.