Archive for May 2018

The Catonsville Nine: Deserved Honor

A U.S. Attorney entertaining self-doubt might have considered legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin’s thoughts on civil disobedience published in June 1968, prompted precisely by draft protests: “A prosecutor may properly decide not to press charges … for dozens of … reasons…. One is the obvious reason that [draft protestors] act out of better motives than those who break the law out of greed or a desire to subvert government. Another is the practical reason that our society suffers a loss if it punishes a group that includes—as the group of draft dissenters does—some of its most thoughtful and loyal citizens.”
The Nine were thoughtful and loyal citizens (two were veterans, four were present or former clergy). Knowing that they would probably land in federal prison, they took concrete steps to halt a war machine that needed halting, and to enlist juries in the effort. For this, they deserve our respect.