SAN DIEGO — Lawyers for a Marine sergeant facing possible discharge after making “political statements” about President Barack Obama are seeking a federal court order blocking a discharge hearing set for Thursday at Camp Pendleton.
The Marine Corps is trying to “railroad” Sgt. Gary Stein with an other-than-honorable discharge for having expressed views protected by the First Amendment, according to a petition filed in federal court in San Diego by lawyers for the 26-year-old veteran of the Iraq War.
The lawyers are seeking an order blocking a meeting of the Administrative Separation Board. The board, after hearing evidence, would recommend to Marine brass whether Stein should be discharged before his enlistment ends in July.
On a website that he created, Armed Forces Tea Party, Stein said he would not follow an illegal order from the commander-in-chief such as killing Americans or taking away their weapons.
“Though some of the language he used in discussing certain hypothetical unlawful orders might have been viewed as intemperate, he subsequently clarified, repeatedly, and publicly, that he was only discussing the settled principle of military law that service members should not follow unlawful orders,” according to the court petition.
Stein’s lawyers want a judge to order the secretary of the Navy, the Department of Defense and two senior Marine officers not to proceed with the hearing.
Stein, a weather forecaster who has served nine years, would like to reenlist, his attorneys said.