Does Freedom of Speech Apply to Military Members?

It Is a Good Idea to Watch What You Say In the Military

Any officer of the Military does not want to be bad mouthing any official in the government, basically from the President on down. If he/she does, they could find themselves before their peers in a court martial.

The law pertaining to this is found under Article 88. It is fairly complex and detailed but the basics of it are as follows:

The official being spoken against must officially be in one of the following capacities:
President
Vice President
Congress
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of a Military Department
Secretary of Transportation
Governor in the following capacities: legislature, State, Territory, Commonwealth
It doesn’t matter whether the derogatory words were spoken in an official or private capacity.
This law is not generally enforced if the adverse remarks are made in a general political discussion, provided that they were not made as a personal remark towards one of the parties covered in this article. The same is applicable to private conversation.

Many times individuals read small writings such as this on the different laws of the military and just assume that the majority of them are mundane and not routinely put into practice. This is not something one wants to take for granted. If the law is on the books, it can be used at any time. Article 88 has only been around for about 60 years, but it really goes back many more years than that.

This particular military law may be one of the lesser ones known to many but nevertheless there have been charges laid in the past pertaining to it. Several officers have received disciplinary action for adversely voicing their opinion about a President, for example. Although Article 88 is not the only one that pertains to conduct of speech, it is one that any officer or officer-hopeful should be mindful of. Officers in civilian clothes or officers off duty have been reported for bad mouthing the applicable officials.

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