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Religious Objector Quits Academy: Army Wants Recoupment

 
 
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 08:22 am
@JTT,
I'm open to be persuaded. I'm sympathetic to concerns about proselytizing in the military academies. My military experience from 20+ years ago was very secular and sailors were free to worship as they pleased including the Satanist on the crew. I also believe this guy is sincere in his objections although I'm not sure his chosen action is the best for him or his cause. I am not a lawyer so I'm definitely willing to listen and learn from someone more familiar with the fine points of contract law. All that said, this guy absolutely knew the details of the contract. When I was in ROTC, the contract was a hot discussion point among the midshipmen with anecdotal stories and lots of review by the staff on what you were signing. This guy was also prior enlisted meaning that he got a lot of counciling and information before going to the academy (and likely his original enlistment voided.) I'm all for doing away with the academies because I think they produce a substandard officer at a high cost, but if you go there, you know what you are getting. He experienced the environment and decided to roll with it for three and a half years at a tax payer cost of around a third of a million dollars then walked at the end. I think he should be treated fairly but what fairly is depends on what the Army has done in the past. If they routinely let students leave without recoupment, they should do the same here. If they let him go when the standard policy and recent history says otherwise, they need a really good reason. By his own words, the Army met their obligations to him and there is no reason to think he would not graduate and receive his commission. To persuade me, I need that good reason. There are other recourses for civil rights violations other than voiding his commitments. In fact he filed a successful EOC claim and got positive results. Given that progress was being made and there was no reason to believe that he was in any way black listed, what's the logical argument that gets him off? It's not the Army sucks because he knew that ahead of time. It might be a civil rights or first amendment violation but why doesn't the EOC claim and subsequent improvement in conditions correct that? Help me get to your position.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 08:24 am
Bump to correct bug on thread.
0 Replies
 
Advocate
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 09:58 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Quote:
Subjecting the cadet to religious proselytizing is illegal under the first amendment.


This is completely wrong. The First Amendment defends the right to proselytize. How can you have free speech if you can't speak about your belief in God or express your opinion that people should follow God?

Free Speech doesn't give you the right to not be "subjected" to speech. This is completely backwards.

This is the crux of the story... and I don't buy it.

This guy has no case based on the First Amendment. It is possible he could argue misuse of authority, but the story doesn't seem to be saying that. Of course he has the free speech right to whine about the proselytism...

... but if he broke his contract because of other people's exercise of their First Amendment rights, he should pay up.



The courts have interpreted the first amendment as erecting a wall between church and state. Thus, this is violated when military (the state) people proselytize cadets. A landmark case involved reading prayers in a public school. The court said this violated the first amendment.
0 Replies
 
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 10:02 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

JTT wrote:

They breached and continue to breach the fundamental law of the US concerning freedom of religion which entails freedom from religion

Even if there were some fundamental law such as that, that does not void this particular contract. If Wells Fargo (for example) screws up my checking account that doesn't mean I don't have to pay my mortgage.


This is a lame example. The checking account is separate from the mortgage. Moreover, the bank fully performed its part of the mortgage contract when it loaned you the price of your home.
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 10:05 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

That seems as biased as if he had something to gain by making a claim like that.

It seems to me that if you want to get out of a contract because in your view it is unfair, the smart thing to do (and the right thing to do) is to go to court where an hearing will listen to the merits of your case.

Leaving a $200,000 contract based on nothing but your unsupported (and radical) opinion is stupid.

You don't get to just up and leave a contract because you don't like something.




Who said the allegations are unsupported? If the matter goes to court, the cadet would have to support his allegations with evidence.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 11:16 am
@engineer,
Quote:
If Wells Fargo (for example) screws up my checking account that doesn't mean I don't have to pay my mortgage.


If Wells Fargo tells you that you have to start daily repeating the Wells Fargo prayer, in public, that you have to attend Wells Fargo meetings wherein all pray to the Big Wells Fargo in the sky to ensure the ongoing success of Wells Fargo, and they start screwing up your checking account for your failure to follow said policies, then you surely could find remedy in law.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 11:58 am
@JTT,
True, but you'd still have to pay your mortgage. That is my point.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 12:03 pm
@Advocate,
Advocate wrote:

This is a lame example. The checking account is separate from the mortgage. Moreover, the bank fully performed its part of the mortgage contract when it loaned you the price of your home.

Likewise the Army fully performed its part of the education contract by providing room, board and tuition. It failed to protect his freedom from government sanctioned religion and there are remedies for that like the EOC complaint he filed but I don't see the rememdy of excusing his recoupment.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 12:14 pm
@engineer,
The army materially breached the contract because that contract was much more than providing room, board and tuition.

As you yourself have noted, E. This is not a come on, soldier, suck it up issue.

Would it be any different if those same people had substantive de facto policies in place that daily illustrated just how inferior Blacks were(qm)
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 12:41 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:

The army materially breached the contract because that contract was much more than providing room, board and tuition.

Ok, let's explore that. What do you think the contract is if it is not room, board, tuition and a job in exchange for a five year service commitment? No sarcasm there, just an honest question.

JTT wrote:

Would it be any different if those same people had substantive de facto policies in place that daily illustrated just how inferior Blacks were(qm)

I think it would be very similar. There would be grounds for a civil rights complaint or lawsuit but both sides would still be bound by the education for service agreement. This cuts both ways. The Army can't dismiss the cadet and the cadet cannot refuse to serve, at least until a court says that is a correct remedy.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 01:01 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
Ok, let's explore that. What do you think the contract is if it is not room, board, tuition and a job in exchange for a five year service commitment?


Quote:
“The tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution,” Page wrote. “These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation.”


These issues have all been noted in studies done. How can you suggest that the provisions of the US Constitution and it seems, the Uniform Code of Military Justice do not form part of the contract?

Did you find that my Wells Fargo parallel was without merit?

engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 02:07 pm
@JTT,
I thought your Wells Fargo parallel perfect (responded here) but I think it makes my point. You still have to pay your mortgage.

As to Constitutional rights, I agree his rights were infringed upon when the government endorsed a specific religion. The question for me is does that void his contract with the Army. I disagree that the educational contract is tied to Constitutional rights any more than any other government contract. You can't get out of paying your taxes if the government violates your rights. The two aren't linked. Let's look at a standard enlistment contract. If a GI was facing religious pressure, he has several options both within and outside the military but one of them is not to go AWOL. He can't unilaterally declare his enlistment void. I think there is a moral argument to say the Army is obliged to act honorably and with the highest respect for the Constitution and the UCMJ when dealing with service members but I don't see that as part of the education for service agreement here any more than it is part of the general enlistment contract.
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 02:15 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
I thought your Wells Fargo parallel perfect but I think it makes my point. You still have to pay your mortgage.


I don't think that you are following this to its logical end, E. Certainly, one would have to take their mortgage with them, but it likely would be considerably reduced by the judgment awarded against Wells Fargo, if indeed they managed to stay in business.

Quote:
If a GI was facing religious pressure, he has several options both within and outside the military but one of them is not to go AWOL. He can't unilaterally declare his enlistment void.


This has zero "pertinality" to this issue. You can't use extra words just to get to the 5 page required minimum. Smile

Quote:
I disagree that the educational contract is tied to Constitutional rights any more than any other government contract. You can't get out of paying your taxes if the government violates your rights.


[to follow]
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 03:30 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:

Quote:
I thought your Wells Fargo parallel perfect but I think it makes my point. You still have to pay your mortgage.

I don't think that you are following this to its logical end, E. Certainly, one would have to take their mortgage with them, but it likely would be considerably reduced by the judgment awarded against Wells Fargo, if indeed they managed to stay in business.

Agreed. In this case a civil case might yield enough to pay the recoupment. The recoupment is not voided, just balanced out. I'm fine with that concept. Maybe he would win more than recoupment, maybe less but they aren't tied together. Just like the mortgage, whether you win big or not, the mortgage has to be paid off.

JTT wrote:

Quote:
If a GI was facing religious pressure, he has several options both within and outside the military but one of them is not to go AWOL. He can't unilaterally declare his enlistment void.

This has zero "pertinality" to this issue.

I thought it was a very close analogy. Soldier signs contract, military subjects his to religious pressure, soldier can't leave. That doesn't work for you? A cadet in the academy is actually in the military with a green id card and everything, he is just not a commissioned officer yet.
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 06:55 pm
@engineer,
It would be stupid for the academy to try to make someone graduate. Thus, the cadet may resign and, unless he was somehow forced out, have to pay the recoupment. It is clear in this case that he was constructively forced out.

This is somewhat similar to a woman who was constructively forced out of a marriage because of mistreatment by the husband. He could not claim abandonment.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2013 07:30 pm
@Advocate,
Advocate wrote:

It would be stupid for the academy to try to make someone graduate. Thus, the cadet may resign and, unless he was somehow forced out, have to pay the recoupment. It is clear in this case that he was constructively forced out.

If you read his original article in the Huff Post, he states the exact opposite, that he has every expectation that he would complete the requirements to graduate and receive his commission. He also states that his complaints have been heard and there have been recent improvements. I'd be a lot more receptive to his argument if he said he felt he was forced out.
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Feb, 2013 01:32 pm
@engineer,
Of course he felt he was forced out. He didn't leave on a whim, unrelated to the religious proselytizing.

The fact that he now wants back in because of academy improvements is irrelevant to the recoupment issue.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Feb, 2013 03:39 pm
@Advocate,
Have you read the original article? He got the improvements, then he left and he doesn't want back in now. The more I think about it, the comparison with the enlisted man who wants out but legally can't just quit the military seems better and better. Once this guy finished his probationary period and accepted the commitment, he was in the Army for better or worse. If he chooses to quit he has to accept the consequences laid out when he signed up. There is no out for religious issues although there are other avenues to address those concerns and protect his rights.
0 Replies
 
 

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