Thursday, June 28, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Stolen Valor Act

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Medal of Honor

There’s been another important Supreme Court win today, this time upholding people’s right to lie:

In United States v. Alvarez, No. 11-210, a highly anticipated First Amendment case, the Court held six to three that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. The Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. § 704, makes it a federal crime to lie about having received a military decoration or medal, punishable by up to a year in prison if the offense involved the military’s highest honors. The key issue in this case is whether knowingly false statements of fact – made without any apparent intent to defraud – are a protected form of speech, and if so, what level of protection they deserve.

Yet another good call. While pretending to be a military hero may make one a despicable liar, it shouldn’t make one a criminal, not unless actual criminal wrongdoing is committed.