“Justice Is Like God: Dead”

Shawn Francis Peters

in The Catonsville Nine

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827855
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950140 | DOI:
“Justice Is Like God: Dead”

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A month after their trial, Lewis, Berrigan, and their accomplices in Catonsville had to face Judge Roszel Thomsen for their sentencing. When the Nine entered the federal courtroom, appreciative spectators showed their approval by clapping rhythmically for several minutes. As the crowd filed in, some observers felt anxious about how the Nine were going to fare before the federal judge. Entering the courtroom, one onlooker commented to a friend, “Justice is like God: dead.” Thomsen determined that there would be no suspended sentences for the Nine. “Liberty cannot exist unless it is restrained and restricted,” the judge said. “None of us can have the freedom guaranteed to us by the Constitution unless people who disagree with the policy of the government express their disagreement by legal means rather than by violation of the law.” As repeat offenders, Lewis and Phil Berrigan received the harshest sentences: three and a half years, with no bail. There were slightly less onerous terms for Dan Berrigan, Tom Melville, and Mische: three years each. Thomsen imposed sentences of two years each on the two women involved, Marjorie Melville and Moylan, as well as John Hogan and Darst.

Keywords: Tom Lewis; Phil Berrigan; justice; sentencing; Dan Berrigan; Tom Melville; George Mische; Marjorie Melville; John Hogan

Chapter.  6293 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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