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The Marine Corps has initiated disciplinary action against a Marine sergeant for comments he posted on his "Armed Forces Tea Party" Facebook page criticizing President Barack Obama, a spokesman said on Thursday.
"There is not a document in this world that trumps the United States Constitution," the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted him as saying.
Defense Department rules allow military personnel to express political opinions so long as they are not doing so as representatives of the armed services.
Stein told the newspaper the Marines accused him of making statements about the president "that are prejudicial to good order and discipline," in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and were taking steps to discharge him from the corps. Major Michael Armistead, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego, said the corps had begun administrative action against Stein after a preliminary inquiry into allegations that he "posted political statements about the president of the United States on his Facebook web page titled 'Armed Forces Tea Party.'"
He did not immediately return phone calls to Reuters seeking comment. But he told the Union-Tribune that he got in trouble for a comment he posted while debating punishment faced by NATO and military personnel over burning copies of the Koran in Afghanistan last month.
The comment in question has since been removed, and Stein said he could not remember it precisely. But he paraphrased himself as stating: "I say screw Obama. I will not follow orders given by him to me." He said he later clarified online that he meant he would not follow "unlawful orders" from the president.
Originally, the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress. However, starting with Gitlow v. New York, the Supreme Court has applied the First Amendment to each state. This was done through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court has also recognized a series of exceptions to provisions protecting the freedom of speech.