Boston Five: Spock in Court

“Across Milk St. from the Post Office Building where Dr. Benjamin Spock’s case is being heard stands a sign that reads in large green letters: ‘Boston Five.’ A second look reveals smaller letters that complete the title of a branch office of The Boston Five Cents Savings Bank. But the anonymous adman who decided to capitalize those two particular words inadvertantly provided a sort of marquee for the drama of the so-called Boston Five and their fight against government prosecution for illegally counseling draft resistance. Inside the Post Office, in an austerely decorated twelfth-story courtroom, the adversaries in the case gathered last week for the first encounter in what may be a long legal duel. The five defendants–Spock, Yale Chaplain William Sloan Coffin, Harvard graduate student Michael K. Ferber, writer Mitchell Goodman, and former National Security Council staffer Marcus Raskin–were all there, each with one or more attorneys. So were Judge Francis J.W. Ford, who will hear the case, and assistant U.S. attorney John Wall, who will argue the government’s side, at least at first. In addition, there was the usual knot of reporters and a few miscellaneous onlookers, including Jessica Mitfrord, author of The American Way of Death, and Col. Paul W. Feeney, director of the Massachusetts Selective Service System. Although few spectators appeared, the horde of defendants, counsel, and relatives necessitated setting up a double row of extra chairs–and at least one lawyer still wound up in the jury box. Ford’s first words barred an entire area of potential defense material: the legality of the Vietnam war. Ford later elaborated his ruling to exclude from the trial both the Nuremberg principles and any attempt to question the validity of executive action taken without Congressional approval. The defense attorneys could not have been overly surprised, since American courts have always shunned issues of war and peace as being unsuited for judicial inquiry. …”
The Harvard Crimson (April 23, 1968)
W – The Boston Five
Anti-war Activists Sentenced to Prison (July 10, 1968)
Involvement in the Vietnam War resistance movement and the “Boston Five”

Dr. Benjamin Spock of the “Boston Five” addresses anti-draft rally in Boston Common

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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