BROWN V. GLINES, 444 U. S. 348 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Brown v. Glines, 444 U.S. 348 (1980)

Brown v. Glines

No. 78-1006

Argued November 6, 1979

Decided January 21, 1980

444 U.S. 348


Air Force regulations require members of that service to obtain approval from their commanders before circulating petitions on Air Force bases. Respondent Air Force Reserve officer was removed from active duty for distributing on an Air Force base petitions to Members of Congress and the Secretary of Defense, which complained about Air Force grooming standards, without having obtained approval of the base commander as required by the regulations. Respondent then brought suit in District Court challenging the validity of the regulations. That court granted summary judgment for respondent, declaring the regulations facially invalid, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: The regulations are not invalid on their face. Pp. 444 U. S. 353-361.

(a) Such regulations do not violate the First Amendment. Greer v. Spock, 424 U. S. 828. They protect a substantial Government interest unrelated to the suppression of free expression -- the interest in maintaining the respect for duty and discipline so vital to military effectiveness -- and restrict speech no more than is reasonably necessary to protect such interest. Since a military commander is charged with maintaining morale, discipline, and readiness, he must have authority over the distribution of materials that could affect adversely these essential attributes of an effective military force. Pp. 444 U. S. 353-358.

(b) Nor do the regulations violate 10 U.S.C. § 1034, which proscribes unwarranted restrictions on a serviceman's right to communicate with a Member of Congress. As § 1034's legislative history makes clear, Congress enacted the statute to ensure that an individual member of the Armed Services could write to his elected representatives without sending his communication through official channels, and not to protect the circulation of collective petitions within a military base. Permitting an individual serviceman to submit a petition directly to any Member of Congress serves § 1034's legislative purpose without unnecessarily endangering a commander's ability to preserve morale and good order among his troops. Pp. 444 U. S. 358-361.

586 F.2d 675, reversed.

POWELL., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,WHITE, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a

Page 444 U. S. 349

dissenting opinion, post, p. 444 U. S. 361. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 444 U. S. 374. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 444 U. S. 378. MARSHALL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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