A U.S. Marine sergeant who posted “contemptuous” comments and images about President Obama on the Web should be dismissed and given an other-than-honorable discharge, a Marine Corps administrative board recommended late Thursday evening.
The case against Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, has raised questions about how far the military can go to restrict the First Amendment rights of its personnel.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, “lawyers for Stein said that because his comments were made off-duty, not in his capacity as a Marine, they are protected by the 1st Amendment. … Lawyers for his command say Stein has violated several orders restricting Marines from making partisan political statements or comments ‘contemptuous; of the chain of command, including the commander in chief.”
During the hearing, prosecutors presented evidence that Stein had posted images of Obama’s face on a donkey, had called the president a coward and had said the commander in chief is “the economic and religious enemy,” the Times says. He also argued that the president should be defeated in this November’s election.
Stein’s Facebook page is here. On it, he says “I am a Conservative, hell bent on defending the constitution and preserving America’s greatness. I do not represent the views of the United States Armed Forces.”
The Associated Press adds that, “the board’s recommendations go to a general who will either accept or deny them. If the general disagrees with the board, the case could go to the secretary of the Navy.”