Dougherty (defendant) and eight others, known as the “D.C. Nine,” broke into offices of Dow Chemical Company and destroyed property to publicize their opposition to Dow’s support of the United States government in the Vietnam War. Seven of the “D.C. Nine,” including Dougherty (collectively defendants), were each charged with two counts of malicious destruction. At trial, the defendants argued that they should be acquitted because their actions were morally justified. The district judge refused to instruct the jury that it could acquit defendants despite the law and evidence and precluded defense counsel from mentioning it. The seven defendants were each convicted of two counts of malicious destruction and they appealed.