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Civil Rights

Military Free Speech

Kennedy v. Paul
Case No. 1:21-cv-00772-WJM (D. Colo.)


On July 12, 2020, servicemember Alan Kennedy was punished for participating in a Black Lives Matter protest on May 30th where the Denver Police fired tear-gas at peaceful protesters. Kennedy was reprimanded on the grounds that he had violated Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1325.06, Encl. 3(6)(d) which prohibits “members of the Armed Forces” from “participating in off-post demonstrations” where “violence is likely to result,” despite the fact that the only violence perpetrated at the event was by police officers. One of Kennedy’s superiors claimed that the punishment was justified because Black Lives Matter protests are "inherently violent.”

On March 16, 2021, a lawsuit was filed challenging DoDI 1325.06, Encl. 3(6)(d) on the grounds that this provision constitutes an unconstitutional violation of servicemembers’ free speech and due process rights. This case is in its early stages, and we are seeking to amend the case to bring it as a class action lawsuit on behalf of other servicemembers who have been reprimanded or threatened with disciplinary action for participating in peaceful demonstrations.  We are also looking for servicemembers who have wanted to attend peaceful protests but have avoided doing so because they were afraid that they might get in trouble for it.

We are looking for additional servicemembers to act as plaintiffs in this case to help end these unlawful infringements on servicemembers’ freedom of speech. If you are a current or former active duty, National Guard, or reservist at a CONUS base who was either (1) disciplined for participating in a demonstration while off-duty; (2) threatened with discipline if you engaged in future protests or demonstrations, or (3) did not participate in demonstrations based on fears of punishment, please contact Sean Kelly, our Class Action Clerk, by phone at (612) 256-3275 or by email at to discuss potential participation in the case.

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that DoDI 1325.06, para. 6(d) is unconstitutional, and an injunction prohibiting the Department of Defense from using the unconstitutional provision to discipline or threaten to discipline servicemembers at CONUS bases who participate in peaceful protest activities while off-duty. No monetary recovery for participating Plaintiffs will be sought.


Type of Case

First Amendment