Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Nuclear Protesters' RFRA Defense Rejected

In United States v. Kelly, (SD GA, Aug. 26, 2019), a Georgia federal district court refused to dismiss indictments against seven Catholics who are members of the Plowshares Movement, an activist group opposed to nuclear weapons.  Defendants were indicted for trespass and destruction of government property after they broke into a highly secured Naval Submarine Base and in protest of nuclear weapons poured blood on the ground, hung banners and painted messages. Defendants contended that their actions were protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The court said:
Because Defendants' actions at Kings Bay were exercises of their sincerely held religious beliefs that they should "take action in opposition to the presence of nuclear weapons at Kings Bay,"... Defendants' actions at Kings Bay were engaged in for religious reasons and were thus "religious exercises" within the meaning of RFRA....
It went on, however:
The government has established that it has compelling interests in the safety of those on Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, the security of the government assets housed there, and the smooth operation of the base.