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ATTORNEY: Tea Party Marine Was Within His Rights

A former JAG lawyer argues that Tea Party Marine, Sgt. Gary Stein, has acted well within his right and that social media rules are not clear for uniformed members. How would you write new directives?

Marine Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, of Temecula — who faces for posting comments to Facebook critical of the president — was well within his constitutional right to post such comments because the actions were not a clear danger to the military, argues Jeffrey F. Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio and former military lawyer.

“You really have to be doing something above and beyond what the military thinks is a danger,” he said, referencing a 1996 case U.S. vs. Brown:

In military, test for whether First Amendment protects speech is whether speech interferes with or prevents orderly accomplishment of mission or presents clear danger to loyalty, discipline, mission, or morale of troops, which is lower standard than clear and present danger test for speech in civilian community, and does not require intent to incite or imminent danger.

Addicott sent his opinion to Stein's separation board, spokesman Phil West said.

A USA Today opinion piece this week argues that, while Americans are free to say what they wish, their employers are also free to discipline workers who hurt the business.

The “Marine Corps Social Media Principles” guide tells Marines to use “common sense,” but doesn’t explicitly cover political speech.

“They don’t give firm guidance as to where the line should be drawn,” Addicott said, adding that he doesn’t believe Marines will be given clear guidance unless federal courts intervene.

If you were to write a new social media guide for the military, what would be allowed and what would be prohibited? (The Marine Corps Social Media Guide and the Department of Defense directive on political activity by military members accompanies this piece for reference.)

Popeye April 15, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Stop your whinning would be a good start. Also remove the hate you speak would be better...tea bagger
Patrick April 15, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Don't leave the clown alone.. Help him expose his true colors. The tough guy likes to run his dumpster on and on about hate and racism but has he presented a single example to back the claims? He suggests that others have a lower level of intelligence, yet the jackass rarely forms a complete and/or coherent sentence. We've got to keep this half wit chomping at the bit, Barbara.
Martisa April 18, 2012 at 03:24 PM
How things changed, now that the president is a tad Black. Under no other circumstances would such disrespect be acceptable.
Neg Jacmel April 26, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I was a marine serving under Bush 2, He gave the order to invade Iraq I didn't agree with it, but I kept my mouth shut; he was my commander in chief and our job was to obey orders given by our superiors. So don't give me bullshits about illegal orders, when you enlisted you knew what the job entails. You follow orders given wether or not you like the person they were coming from. In conclusion you're lucky it ended the way it did you should have gone to jail; you're not a marine, you're a disgrace to all marines so shut up and go back to that hole you came from.
Jeff Walters May 16, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Even people serving in our Armed Forces have the right to question the orders they are given, it is our RIGHT to do so if we feel so compelled. However the correct course of action to this Marines's decision was not, as I am led to believe, the right thing to do. I myself have served as a Marine and more than once I have envoked my rights which resulted in the saving of many lives. So yes, there is an answer and the correct way to do things. Always remember that there are no Atheist in a foxhole, so go see the Chaplian and get your voice heard. It really is that simple. Semper Fi to all before, now serving and to all who hear the calling.

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