Members of U.S. Air Force seek to intervene in lawsuit to stand up for free speech
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - On behalf of two officers in the U.S. Air Force, attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a motion to intervene Monday against a lawsuit designed to stop any member of the Air Force from sharing his or her religious views with fellow members while on duty.
"The First Amendment applies to everyone, including America's fighting men and women who are on duty 24/7," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. "Our clients wish to intervene in this lawsuit because the outcome could significantly impair their constitutional rights."
The lawsuit, Weinstein v. United States Air Force, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, seeks to silence religious speech in the Air Force through the following proposed policy:
No member of the USAF, including a chaplain, is permitted to evangelize, proselytize, or in any related way attempt to involuntarily convert, pressure, exhort or persuade a fellow member of the USAF to accept their own religious beliefs while on duty.
ADF attorneys are representing Major James Glass, a chaplain, and Captain Karl Palmberg, an F-16 fighter pilot. According to the motion to intervene, "Their ability to share their faith and to candidly discuss religion as they put their lives on the line for this country will be in jeopardy. They seek to intervene to protect their interests."
"If there were a place where it is imperative that people be allowed to share their personal faith, it is in the military where the bravest of men and women are putting their lives on the line for this country," Glass said.
Palmberg commented, "After over five years of service and over 500 F-16 flying hours both overseas and at home, I consider my constitutional right to discuss my faith without censorship or fear of retribution as valuable to the military and the future of our nation as the aircraft, bombs, and bullets I am trained to employ."
"ADF is committed to defending members of the military when their constitutionally guaranteed right to religious expression is threatened," Oster said.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.