Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Naval Base Protesters May Not Raise RFRA or 1st Amendment Defenses

In United States v. Kelly, (SD GA, Oct. 11, 2019), a Georgia federal magistrate judge ruled that seven Catholics who are members of an activist group opposed to nuclear weapons cannot raise RFRA or First Amendment defenses in their trial for trespass and destruction of government property.  Defendants broke into a highly secured Naval Submarine Base and in protest of nuclear weapons poured blood on the ground, hung banners and painted messages. (See prior posting.)  The court said in part:
Here, the Court has already fully considered Defendants’ RFRA arguments in the course of ruling on Defendants’ motions to dismiss. In its ruling, the Court determined that the Government has shown a compelling interest and that it is utilizing the least restrictive means...., Because this determination has been made as a matter of law, and Defendants may not present a RFRA defense to the jury at trial....