By The Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Marine Corps said Wednesday it has decided to discharge a sergeant for criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook.
The Corps said Sgt. Gary Stein will be given an other-than-honorable discharge for violating Pentagon policy limiting speech of service members.
The San Diego-area Marine has served nearly 10 years in the Marine Corps. He has said he was exercising his free-speech rights.
The discharge will mean he loses all benefits.
A federal judge previously denied a request to block military discharge proceedings against Stein, who called Obama an enemy on Facebook.
U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff ruled then that the military has the right to respond to Stein’s online comments in a case that has called into question the Pentagon’s policies regarding social media and the limits regarding the speech of active duty military personnel.
Attorney J. Mark Brewer told Huff the entire process violates the First Amendment, which federal courts have the right to uphold.
Huff disagreed, calling Stein’s postings “truly troubling.” Service members have had their speech limited since the Civil War, especially if their comments are believed to disrupt good order and discipline.
The judge pointed out Stein’s March 1 comments on a Facebook page used by Marine Corps meteorologists in which the sergeant stated, “Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him.”