Ninth Circuit Appellate Court Rules That Lying About Military Service is Protected by the First Amendment (UPDATED)

Updates below the article.

Hat Tip to Jonn Lilyea at This Aint Hell, who has a compilation of phony Soldier stories at his site:

A three-year-old federal law that makes it a crime to falsely claim to have received a medal from the U.S. military is unconstitutional, an appeals court panel in California ruled Tuesday.

The decision involves the case of Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Calif., a water district board member who said at a public meeting in 2007 that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.

Alvarez was indicted in 2007. He pleaded guilty on condition that he be allowed to appeal on First Amendment grounds. He was sentenced under the Stolen Valor Act to more than 400 hours of community service at a veterans hospital and fined $5,000.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with him in a 2-1 decision Tuesday, agreeing that the law was a violation of his free-speech rights. The majority said there’s no evidence that such lies harm anybody, and there’s no compelling reason for the government to ban such lies.

The dissenting justice insisted that the majority refused to follow clear Supreme Court precedent that false statements of fact are not entitled to First Amendment protection.

The act revised and toughened a law that forbids anyone to wear a military medal that wasn’t earned. The measure sailed through Congress in late 2006, receiving unanimous approval in the Senate.

Dozens of people have been arrested under the law at a time when veterans coming home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being embraced as heroes. Many of the cases involve men who simply got caught living a lie without profiting from it. Almost all the impostors have been ordered to perform community service.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said it was deciding whether to appeal Tuesday’s ruling.

The fact that this obscene decision came out of the bowels of the liberal Ninth Circuit Court isn’t surprising. Lying about your military service, fraud, and impersonating is ” free speech”? Well hell, in that case, just provide a fill-in-the-blank DD214 for these turds so they can create their own “history”, carte blanche.

What about perjury, obstruction of justice, or impersonating a police officer or a doctor?
Can I computer-generate a law-school diploma along with an impressive resume, and call myself a judge?

I was always taught that wearing unearned decorations on a uniform was a violation of the UCMJ. Servicemembers caught doing that are subject to prosecution. Former servicemembers and civilians should not be exempt.

It’s called “Stolen Valor” for a reason.

Two Iowa legislators file their own Stolen Valor Act:

Rep. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) joined with Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck (R-Dixon) in crafting legislation dealing with the Stolen Valor Act, which was recently ruled unconstitutional by a California court.

In 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act to protect and honor American military men and women. Once passed, it became a federal crime to wear, manufacture or claim any military awards that were not legitimate.

However, on August 17, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional in a 2-1 vote, citing it violates the First Amendment.

“It’s ridiculous to believe that lying for personal gain is protected by the Constitution. It’s fraud, and fraud is illegal,” said Schultz. “This ruling is an insult to the service and honor of our Soldiers.”

Schultz filed a bill in the House, and Hamerlinck in the Senate, that would restore those protections and make it a crime in Iowa to falsely claim military honors.

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1 thought on “Ninth Circuit Appellate Court Rules That Lying About Military Service is Protected by the First Amendment (UPDATED)”

  1. butt neckid

    as for the stolen valor liars…no law will protect them from a good right cross to the jaw…

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