Earlier in April, Digital Journal
reported that Sergeant Gary Stein made posts criticizing President Barack Obama on his Facebook page.
Stein superimposed images of President Obama's face on to a poster advertising the movie "Jackass".
The comments about Obama were made on Stein's Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page. He posted in January: “I say screw Obama, I will not follow all orders from him.” Later, he clarified this statement by stressing that he "would not follow unlawful orders."
Stein's Facebook page drew more than 20,000 followers. On the page he did emphasize that the “page does not represent, and is in no way affiliated with the military, or United States Armed Forces,” and was merely intended as a place to discuss politics.
In a separate issue, Stein posted on a Marine internal network calling Obama a “domestic, economic and religious enemy.”
According to AP
, Stein has now been given an “other-than-honorable discharge” for calling president Obama an “enemy” and other comments made by him on Facebook.
In the ruling on Wednesday, Stein, who served in the U.S. Marines for 9 years including a term in Iraq, will no longer be able to re-enlist in any branch of the U.S. armed forces. He will also lose his benefits.
In court, District Judge Marilyn Huff ruled that the U.S. military was within its rights to act against Stein for violating Pentagon policy that restricts the freedom of expression of soldiers during active duty. The judge had previously blocked Stein's preliminary injunction to stop the tribunal process.
decision has raised concern over whether the Pentagon's social media policy violates the rights of the military.
Stein himself was disappointed at the decision and still maintains that he was merely exercising his constitutional right to free speech. He said: “I'm having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my 9-year career."'
He did earlier admit that “The words that I used were tasteless and I could have articulated my point more clearly.”
The Marine Corps stated that Stein was well aware of the ramifications of his actions and that his behavior was “a significant departure from the conduct expected of a Marine.”
After the ruling was passed, Stein’s lawyer Gary Kreep announced that he will appeal the ruling “as long as he [Stein] wants to pursue this,” but he did say it was doubtful that the decision could be overturned.
A former Army colonel and military prosecutor, Tom Umberg told AP
that he found the court’s conclusion unsurprising, given that the “Marine corps gave him [Stein] the opportunity to think about his actions.
Umberg stressed that "The Marine Corps cannot tolerate a noncommissioned officer undermining the chain of command.”