Midshipman settles case against Naval Academy superintendent, former Navy secretary

U.S Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class Chase Standage.


By HEATHER MONGILIO | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: February 25, 2021

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — A midshipman who sued the Naval Academy superintendent and former Navy secretary to prevent his expulsion has settled his case.

Details of the settlement between Midshipman 1st Class Chase Standage, Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck and former Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite were not immediately available for the public. Each party will have to bear its own costs, according to the settlement order issued by federal Judge Ellen Hollander Wednesday.

The settlement renders an appeal submitted by Standage's attorney, Jeffrey McFadden, moot, said Marcia Murphy, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore. McFadden did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

McFadden could not reveal the details of the settlement but told Standage's supporters that it was a "great day for Chase Standage and his family," according to an email from McFadden.

"Let me say again how unendingly grateful I am to each of you for your tireless and passionate support and generosity," McFadden wrote in the email. "You backed the right horse."

It is unclear what Standage's status at the Naval Academy is now that the lawsuit is over. He has completed all of his educational work and is currently attending graduate school at the University of Maryland through the Voluntary Graduate Education Program. He did not receive a service assignment despite being on the list for Navy pilot.

The Naval Academy declined to comment.

Standage sued Buck and Braithwaite in order to block his separation in September after the academy moved to expel him for a series of 40 tweets from June that academy leadership criticized as inappropriate and, in some cases, racist. His lawsuit claimed Buck and Braithwaite violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights.

Standage's tweets, which were all responses, included saying Breonna Taylor "received justice" when she was killed by police and that "it only takes one drone strike" when responding to a tweet about antifa.

Hollander initially denied the case in December because Standage had not exhausted all of his administrative options. Once Braithwaite decided to separate Standage in January, the midshipman reopened his case.

Last week, the judge denied Standage's preliminary injunction motion, citing a lack of certainty that he would prevail on the First Amendment claim, which prevented him from being able to prove irreparable harm if expelled.

Prior to the settlement, Standage appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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