Saturday, June 30, 2012

Supreme Court Says NO to Stolen Valor Law

On Thursday the Supreme Court ruled that the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 was an infringement of the
First Amendment protecting free speech.  By a vote of 6-3 the justices decided that it is okay to lie
about military service and honors and awards.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority "fundamental constitutional principles require that
laws enacted to honor the brave must be consistent with the precepts of the Constitution for which
they fought" and that "statutes suppressing or restricting speech must be judged by the sometimes
inconvenient  principles of the First Amendment."

While the government has an interest in protecting the integrity of the Medal of Honor and other valorous decorations, the Stolen Valor Act was too "sweeping" and "quite unprecedented" in attempting to prosecute people for merely lying, he wrote.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. joined Kennedy in the opinion.
"The statute seeks to control and suppress all false statements on this one subject in almost limitless times and settings," Kennedy's opinion states. "And it does so entirely without regard to whether the lie was made for the purpose of material gain."
Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan ruled the law unconstitutional but left open the possibility they would reconsider if the law was rewritten.
The law was written by U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colorado, and signed in 2006 by President George W. Bush, making it a federal misdemeanor to falsely represent oneself, in writing or speaking, as having received a military decoration
The opposing opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said "the right to free speech does not protect false factual statements that inflict real harm and serve no legitimate interest."

They went on to say that the "proliferation of false claims about military awards blur the signal given out
by the actual awards by making them seem more common  than they really are."

A new Stolen Valor Act H.R. 1775 written by Congressman Joseph Heck with 52 cosponsors is in the
House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. And in the Senate is a bill
S.1728 with 2 cosponsors and is in the Committee on Judiciary.

So now it is imperative that we contact our Senators and Representatives and urge them to become
cosponsors to these bills, and that they push to have the bills passed out of committee to the floor
for a full vote.

Read more here:

---- Jerald Terwilliger National Chairman American Cold War Veterans "We Remember" ---------------- "And so the greatest of American triumphs... became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades." -- Robert M. Gates, 1996