The trial of Dr. Benjamin I. Spock and four other men--including a Harvard graduate student--on charges of counseling others to refuse the draft is scheduled to begin today in Boston's federal court.
A federal grand jury indicted the five men on January 5. It listed 11 specific acts on their part which it alleged to be part of a nationwide program of draft resistance.
The draft card turn-in staged at Boston's Arlington St. Church last October 16 was among the draft-resistance activities cited.
On trial with Spock, 65, the nationally-known pediatrician, are the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., Yale University chaplain, Michael Ferber, 23, a second-year graduate student in English here, Mitchell I. Goodman '45, a New York-based author, and Marcus Raskin, director of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.
Counsel for the defense had originally said that the case was an opportunity to test the legality of the war in Vietnam and the nation's draft laws.
But U.S. District Judge Francis J.W. Ford '04, who will preside, ruled at pretrial hearings that "the legality of the Vietnam war is not a relevant issue in this case." Ford is 85.
Two Harvard pediatricians--Dr. Allan M. Butler, professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus, and Dr. Samuel L. Katz, assistant professor of Pediatrics--each read statements of support for Spock yesterday at a press conference in the basement of the Arlington St. Church.
"When one's country is wrong, loyalty demands protesting the wrong. And when petition to correct the wrong fails, testing the constitutionality or legality of the law by civil disobedience is a needed and courageous act of loyalty. Silence and compliance are betrayal of one's country," Butler said.
Katz said of Spock, "I welcome his voice of conscience and salute the courage of a fellow pediatrician."
The indictment against the five men today is based on a section of the Universal Military Training and Service Act. The maximum penalty upon conviction is five years in prison and $10,000 fine.