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Arguments heard in Stolen Valor case

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Arguments heard in Stolen Valor case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the case of Xavier Alvarez who was charged with a violation of the Stolen Valor Act for his fraudulent public claim of having received the Medal of Honor. The case reached the high court on appeal from the 9th circuit which held that the act, which outlaws fraudulent claims of having received military awards or honors, was an unconstitutional abridgment of free speech. The government appealed that decision and was joined by The American Legion and others in asking the court to uphold the constitutionality of the act.

Alvarez has never served a day in the military. However, after being elected to a local water board in California, he made the claim that he was a Medal of Honor recipient. While even his own defense attorney noted that Alvarez was an inveterate liar, Alvarez was nonetheless supported by various free-speech advocates who felt that the statute was too broad.

Although it is dangerous to read much into the questions posed by the justices during this hearing, most questions fell into two camps: 1. What is the nature of the harm, if any, caused by fraudulent claims of military heroism? 2. Would upholding the statute have a chilling effect on other forms of speech, such as claims made in political campaigns.

Justice Stephen Breyer, in particular, seemed unwilling to accept the argument that no harm occurs from these lies. "My theory is that it does hurt the medal, the purpose, the objective, the honor, for people falsely to go around saying that they have this medal when they don’t."

Justice Antonin Scalia, another First Amendment stalwart, noted that perhaps deference should be made to the Congress. "When Congress passed this legislation, I assume it did so because it thought that the value of the awards that these courageous members of the armed forces were receiving was being demeaned and diminished."

On the question of whether upholding the act would chill other protected speech, the public defender for Alvarez, Jonathan Libby, seemed to concede that no such chilling effect would take place. When asked by Justice Elena Kagan what truthful speech would be chilled by upholding the act, Libby said, "It’s not that it may necessarily chill any truthful speech. I mean, it’s —­ we certainly concede that one typically knows whether or not one has won a medal or not. We certainly — we concede that point."

Justice Kagan responded with surprise, noting "That’s a big concession, Mr. Libby."

It may be months before the high court rules on the case.

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68gtxman

March 1, 2012 - 11:37am

Should be the same reason manufacturers are not allowed to put fraudulent claims on their product packaging. "Eat this cereal - it cures cancer!"

Dan.Hebard

March 1, 2012 - 2:38am

I can not believe the Supreme Court is even considering this case. Lies and Fraudulent actions have nothing to do with the first ammendment. Take this clown to Disney Land and let Goofy whack him around a little. Duhh! THIS is as insulting and lame as it gets.

mrelmer

February 26, 2012 - 5:35am

I do, in fact, believe in the First Amendment and hold it sacred to the American way of life. But this is not Freedom Of Speech. This is a lie. A blatant misrepresentation of the truth. And it is wrong. Totally and completely wrong. It is deceiving and malicious. And only serves to give someone without galantry that galantry they crave. Let them go out and earn it. Like the real, true and honest heroes did. If you protect a liar so that they may tell these lies. You have not protected free speech. Screw the two-bit, sissy punk liars and their lies. And if the Supreme Court can't see the difference between Free Speech and the lies that these people tell, then perhaps the Supreeme Court needs to re-evaluate itself.

chuckcurry101

February 25, 2012 - 2:55pm

The case reached the high court on appeal from the 9th circuit which held that the act, which outlaws fraudulent claims of having received military awards or honors, was an unconstitutional abridgment of free speech. Show me where it says it is ok to make fraudulent claims and lie in the constitution? Thou Shalt Not Lie. I hope they uphold it and nail this chicken*#@*lier, and give him some time to sit and think about it.

twhite5723

February 25, 2012 - 8:43am

a few years ago the small town in which i live was fortunate enough to host the traveling vietnam memorial wall. during the week it was there a local indivudal whom had his legs removed from complications with diabeties spent his days around the wall telling people and the local media he had lost his legs while in combat while he was in vietnam. his motivation was monatery. as the weekend approached it was planned saturday several american legion riders from around the state had planned a morning ride ending at the memorial for the main ceremony at noon. on that friday one of the true vietnam veterans that played a major role in organizing the event approached the indivudual, gave him one hundred dollars and advised him of the incoming folks that may not appriecate his false claim. grass roots. problem solved

rmtheram

February 24, 2012 - 3:20pm

As a disabled vet, I find it hard to believe that this guy has the right to commit fraud and not have any jail time. He was never in the service and put his life on the line for the rights of our great nation. Then the Supreme Court will take it's time to deliver a verdict. They should be ashamed to called to advise on this matter. Throw the bum in jail and send him with the hard labor people. OH! I FORGOT, HE HAS RIGHTS. THE RIGHTS THAT ALL OUR FELLOW VETS GAVE HIM. Don't we have any say in this matter? Proud to be a Viet Nam era disabled vet!

ds1moved

February 24, 2012 - 12:03am

I have never served in the military but my father did and my grandson is now. My uncle made a carear out of the military. I am apalled that anyone would even consider saying they had served never mind having been awarded a medal. I agree that the minority gets the decision of what happens in this country. Why should the majority of us have to abide by things that the minority thinks is right? I thank all the men and women who have served this country in the past and are serving now. What you do is greatly appreciated. If it wasn't for you, the citizens of this country wouldn't have the freedoms that we do. Thank you again for your service to this country.

Ginati2007

February 23, 2012 - 7:36pm

As a combat veteran the notion of anyone even so much as saying they have earned, or achieved something they have not I personally find disturbing. I as well as many of my combat veteran buddies have heard all of the lies from fake vets, or peacetime vets that try to impress the ladies by telling stories that are known lies. I guess the deserved recognition for actual combat veterans that have served in theatre are not deserving of the honors they have been given. According to them anyone can just buy the awards in a store, online and put it on their chest and do as they please. We are the ones that sacrificed everything to go to war for the love of this great nation and would gladly do it again if asked. They really need to look at this issue more in depth. Me personally this boils my blood to hear that some are willing to cover this under the first amendment!!!

Jones72

February 23, 2012 - 7:35pm

Maybe the Stolen Valor act should raise the charge of Fraud. Wearing a decoration that is not earned is an act of Fraud. That is a charge lawyers understand. GBA!

t28ron

February 23, 2012 - 7:04pm

As a veteran, it is an abomination the the service persenell that served our Country with honor. for those that did not, they can go to hell for claiming something that is not true. What a disgrace to the human race

Sunshine Kid

February 23, 2012 - 6:20pm

If the Supreme Court says it is permissible to use stolen valor, then let's all claim to be on the payroll of the Supreme Court Justices who allowed such hogwash - and do it publicly, citing their own ruling!

cbarrows

February 23, 2012 - 5:33pm

If the Supreme allows individuals to lie about their military service why is against the Law to say "i'm a cop". If I can lie about my military service, which I won't, I joined in 1953 during the Korean conflict and served 23 years, 1 month, and 18 days, retiring in 1976, having served 2 tours in Viet Nam, then why could I not say I am the Commander in Chief and get away with it. The Supreme court listens to the minority and sets rules that the majority must abide by. 14 % are for removing God from what we do, but the 86% that believe that HE should stay must now bow down to the minority due to the misguide Supreme Court.

BS_Detector

March 2, 2012 - 9:12pm

Why would you bring religion into this? We agreed up to that point. The Constitution is in fact intended to protect minority thought.

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