Judge rejects bid by ACLU, others to block hearing for Marine in Obama case
A federal judge in San Diego refused Wednesday to block the Marine Corps from holding a hearing Thursday in the case of a sergeant accused of making improper "political statements" about President Obama.
District Judge Marilyn Huff turned down a request by lawyers for Sgt. Gary Stein, including the American Civil Liberties Union, to order the Marines not to hold a hearing at Camp Pendleton of the Administrative Discharge Board.
The board will recommend to Marine brass whether Stein should be discharged, possibly with an other-than-honorable status, before his enlistment is up in July.
Stein, 26, a nine-year veteran who was deployed to Iraq, is accused of making statements criticizing the commander-in-chief on a Facebook page titled Armed Forces Tea Party and thus undermining "good order and discipline." Among other comments, Stein said he would not follow an illegal order to kill Americans or take away their weapons.
The ACLU joined with the conservative United States Justice Foundation in seeking to have the hearing canceled.
“The military may be different from the civilian world, but it’s not exempt from the 1st Amendment,” said David Loy, legal director for ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “Sgt. Stein didn’t say anything for which the Marine Corps has any right to punish him."
--Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Gary Stein. Credit: Associated Press