A former U.S. Army Band member who served 25 years in the military has filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was forced out of the Army on “false” charges that followed nearly two years of harassment and religious discrimination related to his expression of conservative — specifically anti-Barack Obama — political views.
TheBlaze reported on the difficulties Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers said he was facing in a story last June, which focused on Sarah Palin’s social media blitz in support of the decorated vet. Since one of the roadblocks Sommers said he faced was an order to not read books by conservative authors — including Sean Hannity, David Limbaugh, and Mark Levin — while in uniform, Palin asked Facebook users to post photos of themselves holding “liberty-loving books.”
But the book-reading dust-up is merely one among many improper actions taken by his Army superiors, Sommers’ 25-page lawsuit alleges.
The suit notes that Sommers “expressed his political beliefs within the constraints of Department of Defense (DOD) regulations. As a result he has been systematically persecuted by a politically correct cabal who has repeatedly tried to censor his speech and mock his religious beliefs,” among them his belief in traditional marriage.
Sommers’ suit also claims he was told he couldn’t display anti-Obama bumper stickers on his own car and was reprimanded after a Twitter post noting that Chick-fil-A sandwiches would be served at his self-financed promotion party in honor of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Soon the soloist in the U.S. Army Band Chorus would receive his first-ever substandard evaluation, have charges leveled against him that he insisted are “false,” and eventually be left requesting retirement in lieu of an involuntary discharge so he could keep his pension and benefits.
The federal lawsuit, filed Aug. 1, demands Sommers’ reinstatement to active duty with back pay and benefits.
“Congress has enacted laws to protect the free expression of religious beliefs in the armed forces,” Sommers’ attorney, John B. Wells, said in a statement. “The Army Band broke those laws and they will be held accountable.”
In regard to the lawsuit, a spokesman told Fox News that the Army doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Things turned sour for Sommers in May 2012 when he was harassed for his anti-Obama bumper stickers. They read: “NOBAMA,” “Political Dissent Is Not Racism,” “The Road to Bankruptcy Is Paved with Ass-Fault” (complete with a Democratic donkey image), “Nope 2012” and “Pray for Obama — Ecclesiastes 10:2.”
Sommers was “formally counseled” and ordered to remove the bumper stickers in June 2012, the lawsuit alleges, in direct violation of DOD regulations allowing such stickers. In contrast, attorney Wells stated that a soldier who attained a top score on a physical fitness test was allowed to use the Commanding Colonel’s parking space despite his pro-Obama bumper sticker — that privilege was revoked after Sommers’ called attention to the seeming double-standard during his battles with his superiors, the suit alleges.
[sharequote align=”center”]“Just because someone joins the military, they do not give up their rights as a citizen.”[/sharequote]
A month later Sommers was backstage before a performance reading Limbaugh’s “The Great Destroyer,” Fox News reported, when a superior told Sommers his actions were causing “unit disruption” and offending other soldiers.
Despite his troubles, Sommers was promoted to master sergeant on Sept. 1, 2012. Three days later Sommers threw a party to mark the occasion and chose Chick-fil-A sandwiches, tweeting that it was in honor of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal.
Sommers caught fire for the tweet from his superior officers, the suit noted.
Less than a year later Sommers received his first-ever substandard evaluation and soon after was brought up on charges unrelated to his political and religious battles that his suit claims were “false.” After a series of appeals and multiple contacts with political leaders, in April 2014 Sommers was forced to request retirement so he could keep benefits and insurance.
“Just because someone joins the military, they do not give up their rights as a citizen,” Wells said.