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Stolen Valor Struck Down, Now OK to Lie About Military Service

Do you agree with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lying about military service is protected speech under the First Amendment?

In all the hoopla last week about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, the court's ruling on lying about military service slipped by almost unnoticed.

It turns out lying about being a police officer could land you in jail — lying about being a decorated war veteran, however, is not a problem.

In a 6 to 3 decision, the highest court in the land struck down a law adopted in 2005 by President George W. Bush that made it illegal to lie about military service. According to the L.A. Times, the dissenting judges were justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito. It was reported that while the lie might be “contemptible and worthy of outrage and ridicule,” it is protected by the First Amendment.

The law was challenged, now successfully, by Xavier Alvarez, a former member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District Governing Board in Los Angeles County. He resigned from the board after being charged under the statute for fraudulently claiming to be a former Marine and recipient of the Medal of Honor. He was found to have never even served in the military.

What do you think about this ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court? Contemptible as the lie may be, do you believe it is protected by the First Amendment? And if so, what about lying about being a police officer — does that now risk a challenge under First Amendment protection?

Kim Roberto July 02, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Lying about military honors is contemptible and dishonors those that actually earned their awards. It's one more slap in the military's face. It should not have been reversed. I understand the whole "freedom of speech" ideal, but it seems to be used indiscriminately. We can't yell FIRE in a movie theatre, we can't say we are a policeman, but we can say we won a purple heart. Not right.
art July 02, 2012 at 01:11 PM
the comparson is not even close. first of all it does not dishonor any accomplishment of those who are valid recipients. this guy's lying, if not for personal gain, goes absolutely no where. a policeman has the power to take your freedom or possibly your life if necessary. so he comprison there is nil. shouting fire in a crowded movie could result in injury. lying about military awards does none of these. no harm, no foul!
Sharon Swanepoel July 02, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Art, and what of a fireman? I'm a little conflicted by this. I'm a big supporter of the First Amendment and while I certainly don't support lying, I think you pay the price for your own behavior there. However, these positions, police and military, also doctors, nurses - people in whose hands we put our trust and sometimes our lives - are using the information fraudulently to achieve the purpose of deceit. Sometimes this can be in a way that does have more of an impact on someone else than just boosting themselves. I think it should be left to a court to decide on any of these lies. If there was a negative impact on someone else, it should be left up to a court to decide.
art July 02, 2012 at 02:00 PM
if the person is lying without any connecting actions then where is the deceit? if your next door neighbor claims to be an undercover police officer you might certainly seek him/her in case of a criminal activity. the fireman might be asked to render life saving aid. if hey were lying about their profession that would be a major dissapointment in time of need. however, that fraudlent military hero poses no problem for most of the public. btw 22yrs, us army retired, master sgt
Ryan Smith (Editor) July 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I think the point Art's making is that policemen and firemen can exercise authority over civilians, something which veterans cannot do. One could lie about being a policeman in order to force another person to do something. Lying about being a veteran might get you a better job, but you're not going to be able to exercise legal authority over anyone. And even if it does get you a better job, it seems to me that -- law or no law -- if you get your job fraudulently you can still be fired if found out. I'm on the fence here. People who fake a service record are despicable. On the other hand, the First Amendment is the most sacred freedom we have, and you sometimes have to take the good with the bad.
Sharon Swanepoel July 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Well thank you for your service Art - it allows us to continue to debate issues like upholding the First Amendment!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 02, 2012 at 02:28 PM
A law was duly passed to handle misrepresentations of military service as a type of fraud and has been struck down as violating the right of free speech. So how does this align or affect any perjury charges going forward? After all, misrepresentation (lying) is protected under the first amendment now as free speech - or is it just lying done by political types? It may be a holiday week in DC, but would one of the interns please return and close the closet door to HE!! that was apparently left open last week during the court's rush to leave town? And you thought the heat was related to "climate change":…
Zappenfusen July 02, 2012 at 02:31 PM
The U.S. govt. spent approx. $5 million attempting to punish that idiot Roger Clemons. Anything that will stop Govt. stupidity should stand. Lying about military service seems to be more of a personal defect than a criminal action. Lying about receiving the Medal of Honor will be punished evidently not by a court of law, but as I've always heard, "Hell ain't half full yet.
Ryan Smith (Editor) July 02, 2012 at 11:34 PM
R, It doesn't affect perjury charges at all. Lying under oath is still lying under oath.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 03, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Misrepresentation is now a first amendment free speech entitlement. How can it be strictly limited to just military service? So this ruling states lying is a civil right but not available under the criminal code/state dealings? Legal interpretations aren't they just grand?
David Brawner July 03, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Art it would seem doesn't value his title of soldier as much as I value my title of Marine. BTW, 21 years, CWO-3. The question of weather someone gains power or not is NOT the real issue, it is lying. We as a country have more made it ok to lie. "I'm a policeman" or "fire" will be next.
Wanda Rice July 03, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Must be a Marine thing David...because after my service (12 years) in the Marine Corps, I am constantly infuriated with individuals that believe it is ok to lie about military service completed or awards they have been rewarded for exemplary service. And I was beginning to second guess my feelings after reading the comments above. Thank you, sir, for helping me see I'm definitely not the only one feeling this way.
Lexie Williams July 03, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Agreed with Art! There is also a difference between something being legal and it being ok. It is legal to drink up all your family's money and have to live off welfare because of your irresponsibility. It is legal to cheat on your significant other (unless you're married in the military). It is legal to be racist. All those things are legal, Utterly despicable, but legal.

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