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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Marine's conduct, not his speech, is relevant issue | Gene Policinski, The Asbury Park Press NJ

This article is about the free-speech rights of a U.S Marine who made an online diatribe about President Obama. Can the military punish him for making derogatory statements on his Facebook page?

Policinski notes:
Longstanding military policies bar criticism of the commander in chief, and forbid uniformed military members from taking part in a variety of public political activities. Some say Stein’s claim to First Amendment protection challenges the military’s ability to operate a system based on obedience to superior officers and on order and discipline.
Referring to an issue of accountability for the Marine's behavior, Policinski writes:
[F]rom a First Amendment viewpoint, Stein’s organizing an “Armed Forces Tea Party” would seem to be conduct that more clearly runs afoul of regulations than mere personal commentary with a partisan tinge.
Policinski, who's senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, concludes that a clear standard needs to be established for all citizens that differentiates between their conduct and their speech. Good idea!

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