Court rules Marine’s religious rights not violated
WASHINGTON — The highest U.S. military court has upheld the bad conduct discharge of a Marine whose case had climbed to the top of the legal system over the question of whether her religious freedom had been violated.
In a 4-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces upheld lower court determinations that Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling’s religious rights were not violated when a superior ordered her to take down signs containing a biblical passage that she’d posted around her desk at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The judges upheld lower court conclusions that Sterling’s refusal, in the context of a contentious relationship with her bosses and the combative nature of the passage, was less an exercise of religion than an act of insubordination.
Sterling was ordered demoted and discharged in a 2014 court-martial and the case has been climbing through the courts since, with defenders of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act arguing on Sterling’s behalf.
The court found Sterling had failed to establish a RFRA case and determined that her superior’s orders to remove the signs was “lawful.”
“Without question, a junior Marine in a contentious relationship with her superiors posting combative signs in the workplace could undermine good order and discipline,” the ruling said.
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