Judge’s Ruing Gags Plowshares Resisters

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Apr 30, 2013 7 Comments ›› orepa

APRIL 13, 2013 • Knoxville, TN






Judge Amul Thapar today issued rulings on a number of motions before him in the Transform Now Plowshares case scheduled to go to trial on May 7 in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Thapar’s ruling denies the Plowshares resisters most of the defenses available to them—he ruled out using the necessity defense, any use of the Nuremberg principles, the first amendment, or any testimony about faith, religious or other good motives.


Thapar preserved the hard-won ruling that will allow the Plowshares defendants to testify about their intent on July 28, 2013, when they entered the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in the middle of the night and painted Plowshares Please on the side of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. The government charged the three under a little used sabotage law which includes, as an element of the charge, the intent to injure the national defense of the United States.


The TNP three will likely point out they have consistently noted their action was in a long line of nonviolent actions protesting the continued production of nuclear weapons and specifically plans to build the Uranium Processing Facility at Y12 in Oak Ridge to produce more thermonuclear weapons parts. “We came in hope,” said Sister Megan Rice.


On Tuesday, April 23, Judge Thapar heard testimony from former Attorney General Ramsey Clark that weapon production operations at Y12 are unlawful because they violate the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed in 1968 while Clark was attorney general. The NPT committed the United States to pursue, in good faith, negotations leading to a cessation of the arms race and to a treaty on complete disarmament at an early date.


Thapar’s ruling today did not mention the Nonproliferation Treaty. He instead focused on international law though Clark persisted in making a distinction in his testimony last week, noting the US is bound, under Article Six of the Constitution, to obey treaties as the supreme law of the land.


The Transform Now Plowshares trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, May 7 with jury selection beginning Monday, 2013 at 1:00pm.


  1. Kim Joy Bergier says:

    How disappointing (though not a surprise) that TNP 3 will have a gag order. I’m willing to put duct tape on my mouth, outside the court house…at least enough to make a statement.

    I hope we will be able to have signs outside.

  2. Sue Ablao says:

    As I have said before, “Power doesn’t want to hear Truth.” Still I know Megan, Michael and Greg will continue to speak the truth and others will do the same. .

  3. Jerry B says:

    The defense of Jesus: Silence!


    Judge Thapar’s ruling is neither just nor fair. Forbidding a defendant from presenting his/her testimony that could clarify and exonerate their actions is tantamount to convicting them without a trial, something that might happen in a dictatorship, but certainly not in “America, the land of the free”. WHERE IS THE JUSTICE, Judge Thapar? It certainly won’t be found in this trial, if this gag order is allowed to stand!!
    I often say this prayer: “Almighty God who has created man in thine image; grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, and make no peace with oppression. May we reverently use our freedom…and employ it in the maintenance of JUSTICE among men and nations…” WHERE IS THY JUSTICE, Judge Thapar, for these three citizens who risked their lives to protect the rest of us?

  5. Joel Morris says:

    The ruling is an injustice, but not unexpected. This likely assures conviction on the most serious charge of sabotage.

    The question is: will this gag extend to the sentencing hearing? If so, the government will certainly get their wish for long prison sentence.

    American democracy has become an oligarchy in which corporations rule. Individual rights guaranteed in our Constitution are being lost. These are dark days indeed!

  6. Vic Macks says:

    We continue to be with the TNP in spirit, concern, and understanding of the urgency of the issues at stake.

  7. Don Williams says:

    Ralph, thanks for your continued diligence in keeping us informed. Wish I didn’t have deadlines looming, I’d write all this up, but time’s fiercely tight right now. Soon tho…

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