Judge issues gag order in Plowshares trial


Judge Amul Thapar 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.