Monthly Archives: August 2008

Free Speech in the Military

WHAT FREE SPEECH RIGHTS DO MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY HAVE?

Members of the military have rights under the U.S. Constitution, laws passed by Congress, and the military’s own regulations. If you are in the military, you probably know by now that the military doesn’t tell you much about your rights. This leaflet provides basic information about your right to attend demonstrations, as well as to protest and say what’s on your mind. You can get more information by reading the military’s regulations yourself. It is also a good idea to talk to a civilian lawyer or counselor experienced in military law. Military regulations give you important ways to protest what’s going on in Iraq, Afghanistan , the Philippines and elsewhere. They also impose important limitations you need to know about. People in the military don’t have the same constitutional right to express themselves as civilians do. Courts have upheld some of these limitations, reasoning that the right to free speech must give way if the military says that is necessary for it to accomplish its mission. Other limitations haven’t been tested in court yet. While many lawyers and even some judges disagree with the way the Supreme Court has decided military First Amendment cases, all courts are required to follow the Constitution as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court.