FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AUGUST 27, 2019
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Federal Judge Rules Against Kings Bay Plowshares’ Motion to Dismiss Charges Under RFRA
BRUNSWICK, GA – A federal judge yesterday denied all the pre-trial motions of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. The activists had urged U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to dismiss their charges for numerous legal reasons as well as the fact that the hundreds of first strike nuclear weapons on the submarines based at Kings Bay Naval Base are illegal and immoral.
The judge found the Plowshares did establish a prima facie case under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because they were sincerely religiously motivated to challenge the nuclear weapons at the Naval Base. Wood also found that the government’s actions substantially burdened their right to exercise their religious beliefs. However, the judge went on to rule that the government had a compelling interest in keeping unauthorized people out of the base and the prosecution of the Plowshares activists was the least restrictive means of protecting the safety of the base.
The Plowshares argued that the government bringing multiple duplicative charges threatening 25 years is far from the least restrictive option to keep unauthorized people out of the base. On April 4, 2018 the seven activists entered the naval base in St. Mary’s, GA. They undertook various nonviolent actions such as pouring blood, hammering on a statue of a Trident II D5 missile, and placing crime scene tape in front of the entrance to a headquarters building.
“We took these actions to say the violence stops here, the perpetual war stops here – at Kings Bay, and all the despair it represents,” said Clare Grady, one of the Kings Bay activists. “We took these actions grounded in faith and the belief that Jesus meant what He said when He said, ‘Love your enemies,’ and in so doing offers us our only option for hope.”
The next step is a jury trial in federal court presided over by Lisa Wood in Brunswick, GA. No trial date has yet been set. The judge wrote the trial would be scheduled “promptly.”
The judge’s 19-page opinion will be posted in legal updates
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