The American Legion’s position in support of the Stolen Valor Act - 2005 legislation which makes it illegal to lie about military service - drew national media attention today when an opinion piece written by National Commander Fang A. Wong appeared in USA Today. The Supreme Court hears arguments on the law’s constitutionality today.
National Public Radio also aired a segment on the case and quoted an American Legion attorney representing the organization and its friend-of-the-court brief supporting the constitutionality of prosecuting those who make false claims of fact about their military service, such as claiming to have received combat decorations in order to advance a career. Click here to hear NPR’s coverage of the story.
The Legion’s position holds that the court has never ruled that intentional false statements of fact are protected under the First Amendment, unless necessary to protect other more valuable free speech, so Stolen Valor doesn’t chill protected speech. The “intent to deceive,” which is a requirement for a Stolen Valor Act case, keeps mass prosecutions for telling tall tales out of court, and counters the argument that a white lie at a local watering hole could land someone in prison.
As it always has maintained, the Legion believes that false claims to military heroism diminish the sacrifices of our country’s true military heroes and lend credibility, which normally comes with donning the uniform, to fraudsters.
Full coverage of the Supreme Court hearing will appear on The American Legion national website Thursday, and on the Burn Pit blog site.