Victory—Federal Judge Permits Father of Serviceman Killed on USS Cole to Express Opposition to Islamic Terrorism Over Objections of Marine Base Commander!
ANN ARBOR, MI – Jesse Nieto is one of those many unsung patriotic Americans. He served 25 years in the Marine Corps, including two combat tours in Vietnam . His youngest son, Marc, and 16 of Marc’s shipmates were killed on October 12, 2000, by Islamic terrorists who bombed the USS Cole. Nieto has worked as a civilian employee at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina since 1994.
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm J. Howard delivered good news to Mr. Nieto. He ruled that Camp Lejeune officials violated his free speech rights when they ordered him to remove decals attacking Muslim terrorists from his vehicle. Judge Howard enjoined Marine officials from further enforcing the ban against Nieto.
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The rest of the story on political correctness run amuck follows.
Beginning in 2001, to show his anger toward the Muslim terrorists who killed his son, Nieto displayed various decals on his vehicle expressing anti-terrorist sentiments, such as “Remember the Cole, 12 Oct 2000, ” “Islam=Terrorism, ” and “We Died, They Rejoiced.” Based on a complaint from a Marine who is married to a Muslim, on July 31, 2008, two military police officers (MPs) issued Nieto a ticket for displaying “offensive material.”
After Nieto refused to remove the “offending” decals from his vehicle, the Base Magistrate issued Nieto a written order, ordering him to remove his vehicle from the base until all decals were removed and banning his vehicle from all other federal installations. The order in effect prevented Nieto from driving his vehicle to Arlington National Cemetery (a federal installation) to visit the grave marker of his fallen son.
As a result of the Marine Corps’ unlawful action, the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a federal lawsuit against the Camp Lejeune Commanding Officer and the Base Magistrate on behalf of Nieto in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The civil rights lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the military’s ban on Nieto’s speech.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “Political correctness is destroying our military. 9/11 was caused by Islamic terrorists, and our troops are being killed by Islamic terrorists overseas and on our very own military bases; yet, our commanders are more concerned about ‘diversity’ and not offending the Muslim community. And here, the military re-victimized a father anguishing over the murder of his son by Islamic terrorists because they don’t want to offend Muslims.” During sworn testimony taken in the case, Marine officials admitted they would allow speech that favored Islam, but not Nieto’s speech because they considered it “extremist, indecent, and offensive.”
In his opinion, Judge Howard responded to the government’s argument as follows: “Defendants argue that the regulation is reasonable and necessary because it is aimed at preventing speech the sole intention of which is to inflame the passion of those within the Base command. However, defendants fail to recognize that pro Islamic messages, such as ‘Islam is Peace, ’ and ‘Islam is Love, ’ may be just as incendiary to individuals like plaintiff as anti-Islamic messages are to the individual who complained about plaintiff’s decals.”
Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel for the Law Center who handled the case, commented, “As Judge Howard’s well-reasoned opinion makes plain, political correctness and ‘diversity’ do not justify violating the Constitution. As a former Marine, I am ashamed at the way the Marine Corps treated this grieving father and war veteran. When I told him of the good news yesterday, he was elated. He plans to be back on base with his vehicle early next week.”
The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America ’s Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America . The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.