The Stolen Valor Act of 2005, signed into law by President George W. Bush, makes it a crime to falsely claim “to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” Essentially, the law makes it a crime to parade around in uniform and lie about being a hero or receiving a medal of valor.
However, those convicted under this law, like Xavier Alvarez, have challenged the constitutionality of the law, claiming that it violated their First Amendment rights. The federal court of appeals in San Francisco ruled in Alvarez’s favor in two separate opinions. Now, the case is before the Supreme Court, where the Obama administration will argue that the First Amendment does not protect lies.
For full article see: Lying About Receiving a Medal of Honor? It’s Shameful — But It Shouldn’t Be a Crime.
Justices dismiss law making lying about military honors a crime
CNN (blog) By CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law making it a crime to falsely claim military medals earned.
- SCOTUS strikes down Stolen Valor Act – msnbc.com (nbcpolitics.msnbc.msn.com)
- Lying about military honors protected, court rules (sfgate.com)
- Stolen Valor Update (gunnerscorner.wordpress.com)
Below is my column today in the Washington Post (Sunday) Outlook Section. The column concerns the Alvarez case to be heard on Wednesday before the Supreme Court. I have been a long critic of the Stolen Valor Act — not because I am not highly sympathetic to its purpose but because I am concerned about the means of achieving that purpose. I share the anger over people who falsely claim to be war heroes. However, the government often selects popular causes for expanding its power over speech or conduct of its citizens. The question before the Court is really not about this specific form of lying, but the legal basis for criminalizing lies generally. The Act is different in that it seeks to criminalize lies simply because they are lies as opposed to lies that are used to commit a specific crime like larceny or fraud or perjury. I also…
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