Saturday, September 24, 2016

Navy protesters reports:
In the wake of two sailors going public with their decision to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by refusing to stand when the Star Spangled Banner [left] is played, Navy Reserve Forces Command today published guidance warning troops that they can be punished or prosecuted for such protests.
Editor's note. This is likely to be a continuing issue. It would seem highly desirable for leaders at the highest level to speak about it, recognizing both that our fellow-citizens in uniform remain very much a part of the national discourse and retain broad First Amendment rights -- and explaining how those interests must be reconciled with the demands of good order and discipline. It can be done. It also has to be done.

1 comment:

  1. We had a similar debate in Canada where an army captain put a grievance against symbolic manifestations of links with British monarchy. Giolla Chainnigh v. Canada (Attorney General), 2008 FC 69 (CanLII).

    He "sought relief in the form of being excused from any duty to toast or to pay respect to the Queen as the Head of State of Canada; from saluting or paying respect to the Union Jack as a symbol of Canada; and from singing or paying respect to the singing of 'God save the Queen' as a symbol of Canada." (para 4). When his grievance was denied by the Chief of the Defence Staff, he sought Federal Court's judicial review. The court upheld CDS' decision.

    Few years later, three permanent residents objected to the portion of the oath to become citizens where they "swear (or affirm) that [they] will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors." Two of the claimants objected for political reasons, the other for religious reasons. They claimed their rights under ss. 2(a) (freedom of conscience and religion), 2(b) (freedom of expression), and 15(1) (equality) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms where violated. In essence the Court stated (para. 7):

    "[...]I hold that the purpose of the oath is not to compel expression but to obtain a commitment to our form of government from those wishing to become Canadian citizens. Although the oath has an effect on the appellants’ freedom of expression, constitutional disapprobation is not warranted. Thus, there is no violation of the appellants’ freedom of expression. In the alternative, if there is a violation or the appellants’ right to freedom of expression, it is justified under s. 1 of the Charter. There is no violation of the appellants’ right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience because the oath is secular and is not an oath to the Queen in her personal capacity but to our form of government of which the Queen is a symbol. Nor is the oath a violation of the appellants’ equality rights when the correct approach to statutory interpretation is applied."

    McAteer v. Canada (Attorney General), 2014 ONCA 578 (CanLII).


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