According to The Chicago Tribune, “The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving a military medal, ruling it violated constitutional free-speech rights. By a 6-3 vote, in a case about how far the government may go to prosecute false claims about military honors, the high court handed a setback to the Obama administration over the “Stolen Valor Act” that Congress adopted in 2006.”
Xavier Alvarez, a member of the California water board in Pomona, CA, introduced himself as a retired Marine and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor at a meeting. Alvarez never received any military awards. He never served in the Marine Corps or in any branch of the military. The FBI after reviewing a recording of the water board meeting determined he violated the Stolen Valor Act. Alvarez was one of the first prosecuted under the “Stolen Valor” law.
The Supreme Court case is United States v. Xavier Alvarez, No. 11-210.
The ruling reads in part:
“JUSTICE KENNEDY, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE GINSBURG, and JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, concluded that the Act infringes upon speech protected by the First Amendment.
Content-based restrictions on speech have been permitted only for a few historic categories of speech, including incitement, obscenity, defamation, speech integral to criminal conduct, so-called ‘fighting words,’ child pornography, fraud, true threats, and speech presenting some grave and imminent threat the Government has the power to prevent. Absent from these few categories is any general exception for false statements.”
Veterans organizations supported the law. Free speech proponents and the ACLU fought the law. Lying about holding the Congressional Medal of Honor or any other military award is now legal.