Oath Keepers Assisting in Legal Defense of Marine Sgt. Gary Stein, Founder of Armed Forces Tea Party
Oath Keepers is assisting in the legal defense of Marine Corps Sgt. Gary Stein, who is facing military administrative proceedings to separate him from the Marine Corps, with his commanding officer requesting that he be separated with an other than honorable conditions discharge. This is all because Sgt. Stein dared to found the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page, and because, on a separate Facebook page run by someone else, in a discussion thread conversation with other Marines, Sgt. Stein strongly expressed his opposition to some of Obama’s unconstitutional policies and expressed his intent to refuse unlawful orders.
You can learn more background information about this case here.
We consider this attempt to kick a nine-year career Marine Sergeant out of the Marine Corps, for the “crime” of using modern social media tools to have a conversation with other Marines about serious concerns that impact his oath, and for the “offense” of daring to participate in the Tea Party movement, to be a travesty.
I (Stewart Rhodes) and Oath Keepers General Counsel David Rivers (a Marine Vietnam combat veteran), have volunteered our services as attorneys to assist Sgt. Stein pro bono and we have helped to assemble an excellent civilian legal defense team to work with and assist Sgt. Stein’s military JAG lawyer team.
Sgt. Stein was given written notification of administrative separation proceedings last Wednesday, March 21, 2012, but because all of the JAG officers were at a previously scheduled conference, he was not able to attain JAG counsel till last Friday, March 23. With the separation hearing scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 31, 2012, that hardly provides time to prepare a defense, but unless we can secure a continuance, we will have to soldier on and be as ready as we can by this Saturday. I am planning on being there for the hearing.
Once Sgt. Stein made it clear he wanted civilian counsel to work with his JAG attorneys, we arranged a conference call with the JAG attorneys last Friday. I invited the well regarded constitutional attorneys William J. Olson and Herb Titus to join that call. Olson and Titus were part of the defense team for Specialist Michael New in his historic stand against serving under U.N. command, and they are top notch lawyers. On that conference call it became readily apparent that Sgt. Stein has an excellent military JAG defense team. They are sharp, competent, and very dedicated to defending Sgt. Stein, as part of keeping their oaths to defend the Constitution. They are also very willing to work with civilian counsel as part of a combined legal team. Sgt. Stein is in good hands.
Yesterday, March 26, Mr. Olson brought in Houston, Texas attorney Mark Brewer, who is a former JAG officer. As a former JAG, Mr. Brewer will be the lead civilian defense counsel with the rest of us assisting, with our civilian legal team working closely with the Marine Corps JAG defense team. Also on the civilian team will be attorney Gary Kreep, Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation.
Mr. Kreep will help set up a tax deductible legal defense fund for Sgt. Stein’s legal defense. Once that legal defense fund is established, we will email the details on how you can contribute directly to his legal defense, if you want to.
As noted above, whatever work I or Oath Keepers General Counsel David Rivers may do on this case will be pro bono (no charge) but Sgt. Stein will have to pay for Mr. Brewer’s services (at a reduced rate) and likewise may have to pay for other civilian counsel and of-counsel attorneys on this case, as well as court costs and travel expenses, so he will certainly need donations to help him cover those fees and costs. So, once Sgt. Stein and Mr. Kreep have the tax deductible legal defense fund established, I would encourage you all to donate to it if you can. Just to be clear, that fund will not be run by Oath Keepers, so if you want to donate to Sgt. Stein’s legal defense in particular, please wait until he establishes his own defense fund. Our legal defense fund for Oath Keepers will remain separate.
I will send another update soon, and we will be posting additional articles and documents on the Oath Keepers website, along with our own original research and writing, over the coming days and weeks. I do encourage you to spread the word about this case, and to put public pressure on the Marine Corps to do the right thing by retaining this fine young Marine. Especially useful would be letters of support from leaders of veterans’ organizations, as well as from individuals. We will post an example letter for your use, in case you want to send one in, and we will email that example to our list, once it is finished.
You can count on Oath Keepers to do all we can to help Sgt. Stein in his stand for the Constitution. Doing so is part of keeping our own oaths. This case is about the rights of free speech, assembly, and association, the right to comment on candidates for office and current issues, about the citizen’s duty of civic involvement, and about the duty of service members to defend the Constitution by refusing unlawful orders that violate the Constitution (which is the reason Oath Keepers exists). This is not about partisan politics or any one candidate. The ACLU, to their credit, stood up for Sgt. Stein in the past and is likely to do so now as well. We certainly hope they do, because this is not a partisan issue. This is about being Americans and defending our Constitution, and especially the First Amendment, for all Americans, in the military and outside the military, regardless of their political orientation. It’s not about the left or right, but about our Bill of Rights.
Let’s take a firm stand in defense of this young Marine.
For the Republic,
Founder and President of Oath Keepers
Army Airborne veteran
Yale Law Graduate, 04
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