Home News Marine who received a bad-conduct discharge takes her case to Supreme Court

Marine who received a bad-conduct discharge takes her case to Supreme Court

Monica Sterling Marine
Photo by Wynona Benson Photography/Courtesy of Liberty Institute.

A disgraced US Marine who was given a bad-conduct discharge over a series of disciplinary issues -including the posting of a Bible verse in her office space- has taken her case to the US Supreme Court.

While ex-Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was court-martialed over a series of disciplinary disputes stemming from the display of Bible Verse Isaiah 54:17 (“”No weapon formed against me shall prosper”), wherein she was repeatedly ordered to remove the postings, resulting in her diversion or outright refusal of lawful orders.

However, the First Liberty Institute -who represents Sterling- has argued that the order was unlawful because it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), despite the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruling that the order was not a “substantial burden” on Sterling’s religious expression.

Since that ruling, First Liberty Institute lawyers have argued that the court should have adopted a broader definition of “substantial burden.”

“Ms. Sterling posted the Bible verse as an expression of her faith- an expression which should have been protected under RFRA,” said Mike Berry, the Institute’s military affairs director. “We hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will take her case and uphold her right to religious freedom, setting a clear precedent for all service members and their future expressions of faith within our military.”

According to The Christian Times, Military Religious Freedom Foundation senior research director Chris Rodda noted that Sterling was found guilty of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disobeying direct orders to wear a proper uniform and disrespecting a commissioned officer.

“The disrespecting of a commissioned officer occurred a few days before the Sunday on which Sterling was assigned to be on duty giving out the passes,” Rodda wrote in an editorial. “Sterling refused to take the passes from the major who was trying to give them to her, an incident witnessed by a First Sergeant who, when asked at the court-martial to describe Sterling’s behavior towards the major, said it was ‘the most disrespectful thing [he] had witnessed from a Marine of junior rank’ to a commissioned officer in his over eighteen years of service.”

Justices are expected to vote on whether or not to take the case in early 2017.

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  1. I personally see this as a double edged sword; her religious belief should be respected, but when she took an oath of enlistment, respect of one’s superiors is mandatory.

  2. She disobeyed a Lawful order. She should have taken it down, then pursued the religious freedom matter through her chain of command. Since she repeatedly disobeyed a Lawful order, the Bad Conduct discharge was well earned.

  3. As a retired MSgt. this sound like BS.Someone didn’t like her and added a bunch of trunk up charges. There was no reason to have her remove her Bible verse. The Corps need Jesus more than anything.

  4. A pass to what? A movie or a secured area where he may have had a pass to get in but not the clearance? If it’s the latter, good for her for not letting him in.

  5. She dis-obeyed a Lawful Order from a Comissioned Officer. She should have complied with the order,and challenged it later. Apparently,a Court-Martial found her GUILTY,and she was awarded a “Big Chicken Dinner”. I believe that she got what she deserved!

  6. What happened to God, Corp, Family. God has always come before The Corp. I’m a US Marine Veteran. This Marine has every right to express her right.

  7. She voluntarily put herself under the UCMJ when she signed up…In legal terms, she waived numerous constitutional rights with her signature to join the Marine Corps. She’s under contract law and she has no constitutional defense, but only one under the UCMJ.

  8. But now a Muslim can wear a turban and grow a beard, this is BS, and oh by the way where does it say I do not have religious freedom in the military. There are hundreds of military members with bible verses in their signature block, as tattoos, etc. This was an idiot move by the command.

  9. […] Lance Corporal Sterling was convicted at a court-martial after she refused an order to remove a paraphrase of an inspirational Bible verse (“No weapon formed against me shall prosper” from Isaiah 54:17). Sterling had posted the verse in her workspace and reposted it after her supervisor removed and threw it in the trash. Trial evidence revealed that other Marines were permitted to display personal items in their workspaces. […]


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