Brief Fact Summary. Levy (Respondent) is an Army physician who is being court-martialed for making disparaging statements about the United States’ involvement in Vietnam.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The fundamental necessity for obedience, and the consequent necessity for imposition of discipline renders certain military regulations permissible that would otherwise be prohibited by the United States Constitution.
Issue. Is military regulation of speech constitutionally valid?
Held. Yes. A commissioned officer of the military has the responsibility to act in accordance with and support the efforts of the military in time of war.
Justice Douglas: The First Amendment was meant to protect the speech of military as well as civilians. The ruling here allows a complete censorship on all forms of speech not just that which could be disruptive.
Justice Stewart: The military regulation is too vague to upheld as constitutionally valid.
Discussion. The military has the authority to limit speech and opinion of leadership conduct. By encouraging soldiers to be disobedient, Respondent could have disrupted war efforts and derailed the objectives of the military.