Supreme Court Decision: Frauds Who Lie About Military Service Are Protected by Free Speech

Fucking incredible.

Background:

Some  worthless puke by the name of Xavier Alvarez, claimed that as a marine he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor:

On July 23, 2007, Xavier Alvarez, a director of the (Los Angeles) Three Valley Water District Board of Directors, introduced himself at a board meeting by saying: “I’m a retired marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy. I’m still around.” Each of these statements — with the exception of “I’m still around” — was a lie. Alvarez was indicted and convicted under the 2005 federal Stolen Valor Act for falsely claiming that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor (the nation’s highest military honor).

He had just won the seat on its board of directors and thought he’d celebrate by recounting his exploits. The trouble is, the mutherfucker never served in the military.

Notice the uniform. It’s a pair of Army Dress Blues. Not only did he claim to be in the military, but he’s wearing the uniform of a branch that doesn’t belong to the one in which he claimed to have served.  He must have spend an entire day in the PX buying all those ribbons, insignia, and badges, which he slapped onto the uniform without checking for proper placement.

Here’s Alvarez excusing his behavior by saying everything he said was “taken out of context”:

From Wired.

The government said Alvarez should be prosecuted because the speech fits into the “narrowly limited” classes of speech, such as defamation, that is historically unprotected by the First Amendment. Congress, when adopting the law, said fraudulent claims about military honors “damage the reputation and meaning of such decorations and medals.”

Alvarez was the first person ever charged and convicted under the act, which has ensnared dozens of defendants. Alvarez pleaded guilty, was fined $5,000 and ordered to perform 416 hours of community service. He appealed his conviction to the 9th Circuit.

The 9th Circuit, an infamous cluster of leftwing moonbats, ruled in the assclown’s favor.

And the Supreme Court just gave assholes like Alvarez a pass by ruling that committing an act of stolen valor is perfectly acceptable under the First Amendment.

Via the SCOTUS Blog:

Justice Kennedy announced a plurality opinion – joined by the Chief Justice, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Sotomayor – and concluding that the Stolen Valor Act infringes on protected speech. The plurality reasoned that, with only narrow exceptions, content-based restrictions on speech face strict scrutiny, and are therefore almost always unconstitutional. False statements of fact do not fall within one of these exceptions, and so the Stolen Valor Act can survive strict scrutiny only if it is narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest. The Court concluded that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional because the Government had not shown that the statute is necessary to protect the integrity of the system of military honors – the interest the Government had identified in support of the Act.

Justice Breyer, joined by Justice Kagan, concurred separately, concluding that the Stolen Valor Act, as drafted, violates intermediate scrutiny. These Justices argued that intermediate scrutiny is the appropriate standard because the Government should have some ability to regulate false statements of fact. However, because the statute, as drafted, applies even in family, social, or other private contexts where lies will often cause little harm; it includes few other limits on its scope, and it creates too significant a burden on protected speech. The concurring Justices believe that the Government could achieve its goals in a less burdensome way, and so they too held the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional.  This opinion leaves open the possibility that Congress will re-write the law more narrowly. Three Justices, led by Justice Alito, dissented.
The plurality and the concurrence also suggest that Congress could protect the system of military honors by enacting a narrower statute. The plurality recommends a law that would apply only to lies that are intended to “secure moneys or other valuable considerations.” Ante, at 11. In a similar vein, the concurrence comments that “a more finely tailored statute might . . . insist upon a showing that the false statement caused specific harm.” Ante,at 9 (opinion of BREYER, J.). But much damage is caused, both to real award recipients and to the system of military honors, by false statements that are not linked to any financial or other tangible reward.  Unless even a small financial loss—say, a dollar given to a homeless man falsely claiming to be a decorated veteran—is more important in the eyes of the First Amendment than the damage caused to the very integrity of the military awards system, there is no basis for distinguishing between the Stolen Valor Act and the alternative statutes that the plurality and concurrence appear willing to sustain.

TSO from This Ain’t Hell weighs in:

So, essentially what they are saying is that the bill needs to be written much like Fraud Statutes. This is already happening in part, as Congressman Joe Heck of Nevada has already authored one in HR 1775:
“Heck offered a tacit endorsement of that ruling a few months later when he offered a new Stolen Valor Act that achieves almost the same ends as the one being challenged at the Supreme Court, while steering fully clear of the matter of speech.

Heck’s law makes it a crime to benefit from falsely claiming to have served in the military or have been decorated for that service. Individuals who knowingly lie “with intent to obtain anything of value” would be subject to the same prison terms: Up to six months for basic lies about military service, and up to a year for lying about receiving the Medal of Honor, should those lies be told with the intention of gaining a job, a reward, or other thing of value.

The bill doesn’t specify exactly what “anything of value” is, though a de minimis clause in the bill suggests it couldn’t be applied if the thing procured by lying is of minimal value, such as a beer at a bar. The thing in question must also have a value that is quantifiable, so lies about military service told with the intention of getting the attention, a date, or something less gentlemanly with a person at that same bar is also likely not prosecutable.”

HERE’s a rundown of some phony military wannabes exposed at Jon Lilyea’s This Ain’t Hell site.  Every one of them is a steaming pile of dog shit.  They’re some of the worst pathological liars on the planet, and they see nothing wrong with their malfeasance.

More at POW Network.

I don’t know where in the hell impersonating a member of the military is protected under the constitution. I’ve read the document, and I’ve never seen any reference to that so-called “right”.

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?

It’s not a victimless crime.  People are conned into giving donations and unearned prestige to these phony turds; sometimes entire communities are suckered into believing the wild-assed stories of fake fabulists.

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

4 thoughts on “Supreme Court Decision: Frauds Who Lie About Military Service Are Protected by Free Speech”

  1. Trying to expose these people is difficult I know of one who one with 2 weeks in boot camp got out on thier own came back later and file disability with the VA and now getting 80%. This person does not even have a DD 214? Will admit they do not have one.. They did get VA medical for their knee injury they claim to have recevided in boot camp.
    50% of thier disabilty is for PTSD? 2 weeks boot camp (LOL)
    Joined DAV who did not even check for DD 214. I know of another who joined same Chapter and he tells me they never asked for one?
    The person in question is in their local paper fequently claiming to be an Army Veteran which in truth had joined the CA National Guard.
    I have left a complaint with the VA, With their local VA rep, and DAV Chapter. none seem to care. This is why these people can claim to be what they want. The person in question tells me they can claim what they want because of their first admendment act?
    A simple check of their DD 214 would stop this person but no one wants to get involved or make any effort. This person even let a homeless Vet. sleep in his truck in their drive way. One night he passed away in his truck This person had the gall to take photos and email them to their friends.

    1. Skip,
      You’re absolutely correct. Just a little research will verify whether or not the claims are legit. How in the hell did someone with only 2 weeks in boot camp get disability for PTSD??? The VA isn’t doing its homework. That son of a bitch is taking money away from veterans who have real disabilities. Scumbags like that have no shame.

      SFC MAC

  2. Pingback: borrowed from another board (with permission) - Page 9

  3. Chapter 9

    What is the Fake Warrior Act of 2012, and why is it needed?

    The Stolen Valor Act [2006] infringes upon
    speech protected by the First Amendment.
    —Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, U.S. v. Alvarez

    In the Introduction to the First Edition of Fake Warriors: Identifying, Exposing, and Punishing Those Who Falsify Their Military Service, in 2003, we wrote that:

    Unknown to most Americans, there is a virtual epidemic of imposters in this country—countless thousands of men who, since the Vietnam War, have been either inventing a non-existent military service, or inflating their war records. Veterans’ benefits amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars are being stolen. Military decorations are being falsely claimed, and often worn, by men never authorized to receive them—the kind of medals earned the hard way by genuine war heroes.
    The next year, presidential candidate John Kerry’s campaign website claimed that he had been awarded not only three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star (all undeserved), but the Silver Star was adorned with a “Combat ‘V’.” That combination (Silver Star and “Combat ‘V’”) has never in all history been issued by the United States Navy because the “V” (for valor) is redundant to the Silver Star (for valor).

    During the 2010 election it was revealed that the successful Democratic Party candidate for a Connecticut seat in the United States Senate, Richard Blumenthal—former United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut and State Attorney General—lied for years about serving in Vietnam. (If every veteran, their families and friends had voted against the Fake Warrior, perhaps the election’s outcome would have been different.)

    In the first edition of Fake Warriors, we wrote that “[u]nless something is done about . . . Fake Warriors, their shameless, self-aggrandizing, and costly conduct will not only continue unabated, it will grow.”

    Whatever the influence—Burkett and Whitley’s Stolen Valor, ourFake Warriors I, or something else—several years before the Blumenthal fiasco a dedicated group of patriots formulated an anti-Fake Warrior federal statute, lobbied fiercely for it, and succeeded in having it enacted by Congress and signed into law on December 20, 2006 by President George W. Bush. It was called the “Stolen Valor Act of 2006” (SVA).

    The Act amended 18 U.S.C 704 (a), which for years had criminalized the wearing, manufacture, or sale of unauthorized military decorations, medals, and awards. Note the italicized words. They all constitute acts, not “pure speech.”

    In support of the SVA, Congress made a finding that Section 704(a) had previously inadequately protected “the reputation and meaning of military decorations and medals.” (Put aside the question of whether “military decorations and medals” can themselves, rather than individuals, have a “reputation”).

    Accordingly, the SVA amended, and broadened, Section 704, to read as follows:

    (b) Whoever falsely represents himself or herself, verbally or inwriting, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States, any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal, or any colorable imitation of such item shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

    Note the two words I have italicized, which describe not acts—such as wearing, manufacturing or selling—but pure speech.

    Under this amendment, if the Fake Warrior claims to have been awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, or Purple Heart, punishment for the crime is enhanced to not more than one year in prison, or both.

    Throughout the drafting of the SVA and the legislative process leading to its enactment—and, for that matter, later while the Act was in force and prosecutions were occurring—Professor Holzer repeatedly told the Act’s partisans and others that as admirable as the law’s intention was, because it punished pure speech it violated the First Amendment and was thus unconstitutional.

    As an Army veteran who served in Korea in the mid-1950s, and co-author of this book who considers “Fake Warrior-ism” reprehensible, Professor Holzer much preferred to have reached the opposite conclusion.

    But as a constitutional lawyer for over fifty years, it was clear to him that Section 704(b) of the SVA was a content-based suppression of pure speech that could not be justified by the kind of requisite narrowly tailored, “compelling” federal interest the Court has found in a very few other Free Speech cases—such as punishing defamation, “fighting words,” and hard-core pornography, and protecting the psychological and physical well-being of children. Indeed, the Supreme Court has more than once said that a “compelling government interest is an ‘interest of the highest order’.”

    Professor Holzer’s legal conclusion was vindicated on June 28, 2012, by the 6-3 decision of the Supreme Court in the Alvarez case, holding Section 704(b) unconstitutional.
    We have corrected the problem of unconstitutionally punishing pure speech in our FAKE WARRIOR ACT OF 2012.
    An Act
    To punish false and fraudulent claims to having received military decorations, medals and other awards authorized by the Congress and Armed Forces of the United States.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the “Fake Warrior Act of 2012.”

    SECTION 2. FINDINGS. Congress makes the following findings:
    (1) Citizens of the United States are justifiably grateful to members who currently serve, and have served, in the Armed Forces of the United States, and hold them in high esteem.

    (2) Members of the Armed Forces of the United States who have been recipients of military decorations, medals and other awards are held in even higher esteem by citizens of the United States.

    (3) Gratitude to members of the Armed Forces of the United States generally, and to those who have received military decorations, medals and other awards in particular, makes citizens of the United States susceptible to fraudulent claims by persons falsely purporting to have received such decorations, medals and awards.

    (4) That susceptibility can and does result in citizens of the United States being fraudulently induced by persons who falsify their receipt of military decorations, medals and other awards to part with something of tangible or other actual value to which the fraudsters are not entitled and with which the victims would not otherwise have parted.

    (5) Fraudulent claims of the receipt of military decorations, medals and awards results in serious harm to the citizens of the United States, including but not limited to unauthorized access to classified and other sensitive information and installations, undeserved receipt of veteran and related benefits, unwarranted leniency at sentencing for crimes, and by the unfair treatment of abuse victims by those claiming to have suffered trauma in military service.

    (6) Legislative action by Congress is necessary to punish the false and fraudulent claims by persons purporting to have received military decorations, medals and awards.
    SECTION 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF CRIMINAL OFFENSE RELATING TO FALSE AND FRAUDULENT CLAIMS ABOUT RECEIPT OF MILITARY MEDALS AND AWARDS.

    (1) FALSE AND FRAUDULENT CLAIMS ABOUT RECEIPT OF MILITARY DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND AWARDS.
    Whoever knowingly and falsely, with the intent to obtain something of tangible or other actual value to which he or she is not entitled, represents himself or herself, verbally or in writing, under circumstances where such representation may reasonably be expected to be believed, to have been awarded any military decoration, medal or award authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States, any of the service medals or badges awarded to the member of such forces, the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration, medal, award, or any colorable imitation of such item, and who as a result of such representation obtains something of tangible or other actual value to which he or she is not entitled, shall be fined $5,000, imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
    (2) ENHANCED PENALTY FOR OFFENSES INVOLVING CERTAIN OTHER MEDALS.

    If a military decoration, medal or award involved in an offense described in Section 3 (1) is a Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, POW Medal or Purple Heart, in lieu of the punishment provided in such section the offender shall be fined $10,000, imprisoned not less than nine months nor more than twelve months, or both.

    You will note that the FAKE WARRIOR ACT OF 2012 differs from the 2006 Act in at least two significant ways.

    First, we have grounded the government’s interest not in punishing pure speech because, as the Alvarez Court demonstrated, in the Fake Warrior context there is no narrowly tailored compelling government interest that will justify doing so. Instead, we have rested that interest on criminalizing a traditional type of fraud, one that has been a common law and statutory crime for centuries.

    And we have supported the government’s interest with “Findings” that emphasize the statute’s anti-fraud intention, instead of resting it on the suppression of pure speech (as Section 704(b) of the SVA regrettably and unconstitutionally did). These Findings will provide a reviewing court with an unambiguous understanding of the legislation’s sole anti-fraud purpose.

    A word of warning, however.
    On May 5, 2011, while litigation was occurring in the federal courts over Section 704(b) of the Stolen Valor Act of 2006, and its constitutional infirmity was becoming more apparent, Representative Joe Heck (R-NV-3) introduced the Stolen Valor Act of 2011 (H.R. 1775). On October 18, 2011, Senator Scott Brown introduced the identical bill in the Senate (S. 1728). Heck’s bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, and Brown’s to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
    While we respect and applaud their desire to rectify the constitutional problem of the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 with their new bills, regrettably the proposed legislation is woefully inadequate to deal with Fake Warrior claims and, like the SVA of 2006, on shaky ground constitutionally.
    The core of the Heck-Brown bills is this: “Whoever, with intent to obtain anything of value, knowingly makes a misrepresentation regarding his or her military service. . . .”
    The proposed law then limits the “misrepresentations” to individuals who “served in a combat zone, served in a special operations force, or was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
    There are many problems with these bills, among them that:
    • Our Fake Warrior Act’s requirement of “falsity,” has been replaced with mere “misrepresentation”—a milder word which has a different legal meaning.
    • The word “value” in the proposed SVA of 2011 is too vague, compared to our Fake Warrior Act’s use of “tangible or other actual value.”
    • Since one could intentionally misrepresent to obtain something of value to which he was entitled, our Fake Warrior Act’s requirement of “not entitled” is crucial.
    • The Heck-Brown bills do not specify whether the misrepresentation must or can be written or oral. Our Fake Warrior Act does.
    • The proposed SVA of 2011 imposes no reliance by the recipient of the misrepresentation, compared to our Fake Warrior Act of 2012 which requires that the claimant have a reasonable expectation that he will be believed.
    • Under our Fake Warrior Act the false statement must succeed, and the claimant actually receive something of “tangible or other actual value.” Not so under the Heck-Brown bills.
    • In the Heck-Brown bills, the misrepresentation must be about “military service,” which is defined, among other ways, as “receipt of any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” Presumably, this includes the Good Conduct Medal, a trivial award in the company of those our Fake Warrior Act criminalizes: “Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, POW Medal or Purple Heart….”
    • For “misrepresentations” about these seven, our Fake Warrior Act has a penalty enhancement. The Heck-Brown bills do not.
    We stress these differences not to nit-pick either the laudable intention of the Heck-Brown bills, but rather because, as the Congressman and Senator themselves realize, the Fake Warrior scandal must be dealt with through Congressional legislation that will successfully get the job done. And for that to happen, a statute must be comprehensive and constitutional. Unfortunately, the Heck-Brown bills are neither. (They should be either withdrawn or buried in committee.)
    In their place, our FAKE WARRIOR ACT OF 2012 should promptly be introduced, enacted, and become law.
    Then, and only then, will federal prosecutors have the weapon they need to identify, expose, and punish those who falsify their military service.

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