Retired Airman Threatens Lawsuit over Assault, Constitutional Violations
Retired US Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez was physically ejected from a fellow Airman’s retirement ceremony — to which he had been invited — when he began a flag-folding speech in which it was known he would invoke the name of God (as previously discussed).
With the assistance of the First Liberty Institute, SMSgt Rodriguez is now threatening legal action if the Air Force doesn’t respond. In the letter (PDF) written by First Liberty attorney Mike Berry, Rodriguez seeks four things:
(1) A written admission of wrongdoing and unlawful actions by the responsible member(s);
(2) A written apology to Mr. Rodriguez;
(3) A written assurance that, henceforth, no member of the 349th Air Mobility Wing will commit assault or battery against Mr. Rodriguez because he is attempting to engage in constitutionally protected conduct;
(4) Punitive action against those determined to be responsible for violating Mr. Rodriguez’s constitutional rights.
There is little doubt the video of three Senior NCOs dragging Rodriguez from the ceremony has placed the Air Force in a negative light, as the news of Rodriguez’s legal threat has exploded across a wide variety of media outlets. But the “discredit,” if that word can be used, was not brought on the Air Force by Rodriguez.
As discussed earlier and in First Liberty’s letter, it certainly appears three Airmen assaulted a retired SNCO, and apparently did so because they improperly believed such assault was justified because he was going to say “God” in a non-profane way. Those three Airmen, and the leaders who gave them the belief they had both the authority and need to take such action, may have acted to the general prejudice of good order and discipline.
The question becomes how the Air Force will choose to handle damage control. At this point, they may punt as they try to figure out a course of action, or they may issue a vaguely worded response noting the Air Force “protects the religious liberties” of its Airmen, both active and retired, and can’t discuss personnel matters due to privacy restrictions. Given the current sociopolitical environment, it won’t likely be what Rodriguez wants — which will make his response more interesting.
Some of what Rodriguez demands seems personal — but ultimately it is much greater, something First Liberty likely recognizes.
What does it say, after all, if the US military permits physical violence against its own (or retired) members because of their plan to utter a statement — and a very benign statement, at that — mentioning God?
Free speech and religious liberty — clear constitutional issues — are clearly at stake.
That begs the question, then: Where is the self-declared leading religious liberty advocate for the US military?
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein declared the assault on the Airman was handled “correctly,” and that the retiree — MSgt Charles Roberson — should have been court-martialed.
That is Mikey Weinstein’s (twisted) idea of liberty. Any questions?