Sgt. Gary Stein & the First Amendment

Sgt. Gary Stein & the First Amendment

“As an active Marine I say, ‘Screw Obama’ and I will not follow orders from him.” (Then active-duty USMC Sgt. Gary Stein)


Anyone who follows me on my blog or on twitter knows that I support the US military and their families 100%. We cannot do enough to support our troops. I thank God every day for the dedication of our military and recognize the difficulties they and their families endure.

However, I have no sympathy for now former Sgt. Gary Stein.  My personal dislike of President Obama can not sway my analysis of this issue. An active duty member of our military takes an oath to obey all lawful orders of their superiors, including the Commander-in-Chief. When one joins the military they effectively give up a portion of their First Amendment rights.

In short, the First Amendment does not permit an active duty member of the military to publicy repudiate their oath of service regardless of their personal views. Sgt. Stein’s comment posted on Facebook for all to see was not a lawful exercise of his First Amendment rights; it was a public rejection of the oath he took upon entering the Marine Corps. That he subsequently tried to “clarify” his statement by saying he meant unlawful orders does not help his case. It also does not help that a United States attorney told him at least four other times to tone down his “inflammatory” political rhetoric.  He knew he was treading on thin ice to say the least.

Given Sgt. Stein’s previous activity in the political realm, I suspect Sgt. Stein knew exactly what he was doing when he posted that statement. Furthermore, given the notoriety that he has received thus far I doubt his financial future is as bleak as many of his supporters would have us believe.

I thank Sgt. Stein for his almost 10 years of dedicated service to our country and I wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors.  God Bless America and God Bless our military troops and their families.

ABC News Report

MSNBC News Report

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