A three-member military panel is unanimously recommending that a sergeant who posted "contemptuous" comments about President Barack Obama on a Facebook page he created called Armed Forces Tea Party be booted from Marine Corps.
The ruling in the case of Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, came Thursday night following a 13-hour hearing and an hour-long deliberation session at Camp Pendleton.
The final decision on Stein's status will be made by the commanding general of the Marine Corp Recruit Depot San Diego.
Stein was put on notice of a possible violation of the Uniform Code of Justice last month after he said on Facebook that he would not follow certain orders from the president. He later clarified the comments, saying he would not follow any unlawful orders from the commander-in-chief. He further said he believed his online activity was protected under the First Amendment.
Stein, 26, a nine-year veteran of the Corps, had no comment after the board announced its decision following 40 minutes of deliberation. But Mark Brewer, one of Stein's civilian lawyers, said: "We're disappointed but we're going to keep fighting for this Marine."
Prior to the hearing at Camp Pendleton, Stein sought an injunction from the U.S. District Court, arguing that he could not get a fair trial from military panelists. His request was denied.
Attorneys for Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, of Temecula, are seeking a temporary restraining order for the second time in a week in an attempt to stop the discharge proceedings...
...Stein is a nine-year veteran of the Marine Corps, and he has been backed by a team of civilian and military attorneys, including those from the United States Justice Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union. Two Republican congressmen, Duncan Hunter of Alpine and Darrell Issa of Vista, have voiced support for Stein, who is fighting to stay in the military and testing its longtime policy of limiting the free speech of its members...
...Stein's lawyers contend that their client's free-speech rights are being violated because, although he isn't going to be prosecuted, receiving an other-than-honorable discharge is a black mark that will follow him for the rest of his life. Brewer said there is no equivalent in civilian life.
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