Supreme Court Strikes Down Stolen Valor Act: I Won the Purple Heart In Afghanistan

 

“The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law called the Stolen Valor Act which prohibits a person from falsely claiming that he has been awarded a military honor,” NBC reports. “The case involved Xavier Alvarez who was an elected member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District Board in Pomona, California. In 2007 Alvarez said at a public water district board meeting that he was a retired Marine, had been ‘wounded many times,’ and had been ‘awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor’ in 1987. In fact, he had never served in the United States armed forces.” Coming on the heels of the Court’s decision that the health care mandate is A-OK (it’s a tax), the ruling is bound to infuriate conservatives—despite the fact that the Obama administration argued for the Act.

comments

  1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

    “Coming on the heels of the Court’s decision that the health care mandate is A-OK (it’s a tax), the ruling is bound to infuriate *anyone who has actually served in the armed forces.”
    ——
    Fvcking fixed.

  2. avatar TTACer says:

    The trouble with people lying about being vets is that it is always, invariably, no exceptions, for personal gain and therefor fraud. Whether it is getting elected to public office or just scamming free drinks from generous strangers, it is always for personal gain.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      “His lawyers said that there was no evidence that false claims undermined the integrity of military medals, and to the extent they do affect their integrity, the government ‘should encourage counter-speech or legislate against actual fraud,’ – and Alvarez wasn’t accused of fraud, only of false speech. “

      1. avatar Pascal says:

        Fine, so change the law so it is Fraud…basically that is what SCOTUS ruled, free speach is protected including not telling the truth (as we see from the anti-gun crowd) but if they change the law to make it fraud, in the future they would go to jail for fraud for making similar false claims.

    2. avatar HSR47 says:

      Like it or not, this was the right thing for them to do.

      The Stolen Valor Act was an overly broad federal criminal statute that infringes on the right to free speech.

      Think about it; if the WBC can picket military funerals shouting their usual slogans (God hates fags, thank God for dead soldiers, etc.) and have it widely considered to be a distasteful use of the right to free speech, then I can damned well claim to have won a purple heart, or the CMOH, under the same principle.

      For the over a century, and especially in the last few decades, congress has been writing statutes that insinuate that nebulous non-harmful acts are somehow federal crimes, generally felonies, with harsh penalties. It’s to the point where virtually every one of us can conceivably commit MULTIPLE such “felonies” every day. See: http://threefelonies.com/Youtoo/tabid/86/Default.aspx

  3. avatar Mike OFWG says:

    I don’t know how many commies I killed at Anzio, but I know there were a bunch! Got the DFC, the Croix de Guerre and the CIB, with diamonds and crossed swords.

    1. avatar TTACer says:

      I would like to thank you for your service, buy you a drink, and elect you to public office.

  4. avatar Skyler says:

    I thought it should have been argued on a property rights basis, not a free speech issue. An honor is a property awarded, just like a license. You can’t represent yourself as having a license to sell beer if you don’t have one. You shouldn’t be able to claim an honor was given to you, along with the esteem that accompanies it, if it wasn’t in fact awarded to you.

    I should have submitted an amicus brief!

    1. avatar virtualjohn says:

      Great point, Skyler. It would be as if a business claimed to be a purveyor to the Queen and wasn’t.

    2. avatar HSR47 says:

      “I thought it should have been argued on a property rights basis”

      Ok….

      I own it, therefore it’s mine, therefore I can wear it.

      Or is that not what you had in mind?

  5. avatar Sanchanim says:

    I hope he was fired from his job at minimum.
    I guess you can say what ever you want but if they find out it won’t look good for you.
    To that end it is the first amendment freedom. Yes it sucks, I don’t like it either in regard to someone saying they got something they didn’t. It is a fine line to start censoring what people say. You and I may not like it but it is a freedom we all have.

    1. avatar bontai Joe says:

      Mr. Alvarez also claimed he played hocky for Detroit, and has also been caught adding his EX wife to his health plan at work. The water authority figures he owes them around $4000 for that. Plus, he claimed to be a member of an American Legion post in CA that doesn’t exist. This guy can’t have much of a reputation left.

      1. avatar HSR47 says:

        It seems fairly clear that the guy committed fraud, it’s it’s also clear that his actions should have negative consequences.

        The thing though, is that the RIGHT way to pursue those consequences is almost certainly through the CIVIL court system; in other words, his employer, and anyone he defrauded, should be able to sue him to recover any quantifiable damages.

        Using a nebulous federal statute that is suppressive of free speech in order to pursue a felony conviction, which would in turn put him in a cage (at taxpayer expense) for a period of years along with suppressing our collective right to free speech, is the wrong thing to do on ALL levels.

  6. avatar Cameron S. says:

    Despite the lack of legal punishment for those choose to impersonate, lie, and commit fraud about military service and awards, I do know many military men current and past who would have no problem “punishing” such individuals, should I make their presence known.

    1. avatar Curzen says:

      sad to know that those men apparently don’t care about laws or the constitution

      1. avatar I_Like_Pie says:

        Constitution protects your rights, but it will not prevent people from trying to kick your ass while enjoying those rights.

        1. avatar Curzen says:

          rights are null and void without them being enforced

        2. avatar I_Like_Pie says:

          With an ass beating occurring somewhere during that process.

        3. avatar matt says:

          More evidence that service members are more than willing to violently oppress their follow countrymen who are simply exercising their rights. What do you think will happen when they’re inevitably ordered to take our guns?

        4. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          @matt: Really? Falsely claiming military service or medals is like wearing Hell’s Angels colors without being a member. Sure, it’s your right to dress how you want and say what you like. Be prepared for the consequences, though.

        5. avatar matt says:

          Well its nice to see that youre comparing one criminal organization with another. Do the Hells Angles wrap themselves in a flag, call themselves heroes and most importantly tell everyone they are fighting for our rights too?

        6. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          So now I’m a criminal? Wonders never cease.

        7. avatar HSR47 says:

          Precisely.

          If you were to picket the funeral of a friend or family member of mine as the WBC does, I would be strongly inclined to commit something between battery and homicide.

          What people don’t seem to understand is that just because you CAN do something does not mean you SHOULD do something.

          Thus, while the WBC has the RIGHT to picket military funerals, they should have the decency NOT to. The same applies with regard to claiming to have earned awards, especially military honors, which one has not actually earned.

          Part of the problem with our society is that we have become too soft on anti-social people (like the WBC, and genuine criminals generally), while simultaneously deciding that we should make examples of decent, honest, hardworking, law-abiding citizens.

  7. avatar stateisevil says:

    Why would I care if someone claimed to be a vet? Is that supposed to be an honor or something? Oh, that’s right, they fight for our “freedoms”.. As far as the health care law, how many times have I heard that we have to vote GOP “so we get conservative justices”. Like Roberts? Thanks all you Republicans out there. Hilarious! Just another day in the land of the free home of the brave.

    1. avatar HSR47 says:

      While I agree that it was a bad decision*, there exists the possibility that it was an effort by Roberts to award Obama a victory in battle at the cost of the war. Remember, it was largely public sentiment about Obamacare that mobilized enough people to take the house out of the hands of the Democrats in the last election. Roberts also effectively placed severe limits on the scope of the use of the commerce clause, which is generally a good thing.

      As for the decision referenced by TFA, I think SCOTUS made the right decision about the SVA; it was a bad law. There are already too many federal felony statutes on the books, we don’t need more, especially given that federal prosecutors are already doing their best to convict every ham sandwich in the country

      *It’s clearly a PENALTY, not a tax as defined by multiple SCOTUS decisions which are quoted in Rock Island Armory vs US.

  8. avatar Martin Albright says:

    It’s already against the law to obtain monetary or other tangible benefits via misrepresentation (it’s called fraud.) The kind of “benefits” that fake veterans get are the intangible ones: Respect, admiration, possibly even election to public office. As offended as I am by those who fake their military credentials, I have to agree that this law was over the line.

    Just because something is disgusting, manipulative, disrespectful or sleazy doesn’t mean it should be illegal. Furthermore, upholding a law that is abhorrent to the Constitution does more to disrespect the service of veterans than saying you won the Medal of Honor on Grenada (<— believe it or not, somebody actually made such a claim.)

    1. avatar TTACer says:

      Election to public office is not an intangible benefit.

      1. avatar HSR47 says:

        Yes and no.

        The issue is PROVING that it is a tangible benefit. Good luck doing that, because in order to do that, you’d need to prove that it was THE deciding factor between one candidate and the other. In other words, you’d need to get inside the heads of the entire electorate, and generally speaking, that’s not possible.

        Still, if the population finds that they have been defrauded by an elected official, they generally have a recourse: They can petition to recall said official.

        In short, laws such a the SVA only succeed in circumventing our traditional Republican values.

  9. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    I contend that the First Amendment does not protect false speech. No one has the right to lie. You-can’t-yell-fire-in-a-theater-if-there-is-no-fire type thing. However, I am totally opposed to throwing someone in a cage for lying. Unless his speech or actions based on his speech harm others or property, he should just be shunned.

    I think the greater issue is why people view military “honors” as respectable. So someone did a good job at doing the empire’s bidding and killing because they were told to…. wow, that’s some honor.

    1. avatar Michael B. says:

      It does protect lying. As for that “not yelling fire in a crowded theater” thing, gimme a break. There are so many misconceptions surrounding that case.

    2. avatar Curzen says:

      “government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action” – https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/395/444/case.html

      1. avatar Henry Bowman says:

        Micheal B and Curzen,
        I understand that SCOTUS has ruled that 1A protects lying… I’m contending that it does not. My contention is based on the assumption that the BoR does not grant rights but protects our natural, inherent rights. My position is that we (humans) do not have a right to speak falsely, therefore the BoR cannot protect something that does not first already exist. Untruth may be different than inflammatory however, so as long as the inflammatory speech is true (truth hurts sometimes), then I agree that it is protected speech. I believe that we (humans) do have a natural, inherent right to the truth, as far as it affects our dealings with others, so a lie or fraud would be a violation of that right. My postition is obviously outside the realm of our current governmental construct which itself is based on lies… so, of course they’ll say that lying is okay.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          All lies are protected as speech, unless they fall into an narrow class of unprotected speech such as fraud, libel and slander.

          The Stolen Valor Act, while having a laudible purpose, violated the 1st Amendment since it created a new class of unprotected speech without support in common law or Con law.

          HB, the problem with your definition of protected speech is that it makes you the arbiter of what is a natural and inherent right. I’m not saying that you’re a bad guy, HB.I’m saying that the whole concept of “natural and inherent” is the kind of philosophical voodoo that the Warren Court foisted upon the world. You won’t find it in the Constitution.

          Yeah, I know about “we hold these truths to be self evident.” Nice language. Stirring. Patriotic. But the Declaration is not the law and never was intended to be the law.

        2. avatar Henry Bowman says:

          Ralph, I totally agree that my positions are outside the construct of the “law.” I do not base them on what the Constitution says or the BoR or the Declaration of Independence. I may use those things to discuss ideas with folks but my adjudication of natural and inherent rights are based on my reason and supported by my religious faith. I would say that lying is a form of aggression against another that attacks his ability to make rational, informed decisions regarding voluntary association. Now, I don’t think liars should be imprisoned (unless their lies cause damage to persons or property), but I do think lying is contrary to the natural order. I mean, that is why liars are generally not trusted and have a poor reputation… it is the natural human reaction to untruth.

        3. avatar Henry Bowman says:

          “Declaration is not the law and never was intended to be the law”

          Ralph, one more thought unrelated to truth or lies.
          If we are examining what was intended to be the law, then, technically, the Constitution doesn’t even qualify. The Articles of Confederation were the agreed upon contract and contained processes for amending that contract. The Constitution was adopted completely outside the “law” that the Articles set forth. So, is the Constitution really the “law of the land” or actually a violation of the original “law”?

        4. avatar Anon in CT says:

          This really wouldn’t be such a big issue if the gullible/complicit MFM (or MFM) didn’t automatically believe every long-haired, unwashed, DB hippie who claimed to be a “vet” right before denouncing America and all its works.

          Without media recognition, these people would be simply contemptible and ingnorible.

  10. avatar Tim McNabb says:

    I think this was the right decision, and I am a conservative and a veteran. I think this problem can be dealt with by social opprobrium heaped upon the liars. No good reason to make it a Federal case.

    Now, if you defraud someone by lying, say getting a contract based on a fraudulent claim…different story.

    1. avatar Michael B. says:

      +1

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      I fully agree. I am not a vet, but I think it is disgusting and disrespectful to claim honors to which one is not entitled. But the social opprobrium is a sufficent deterent and punishment for violations. People who are running for office who make lies like these do not get elected. People who make lies like these to get a job get fired.

  11. avatar jim says:

    When I first heard the news about bin laden’s death my first reaction was “Oh, great, now for the next 40 years every time I go into a beer joint I’m going to meet some Seaman Recruit who got an unsuitability discharge after three months who says I should buy him a beer because he’s the SEAL who killed Osama.”

    My favorites are the Air Force guys who spent a year in Nam unloading C-130s without ever leaving the airbase who swear they were with a top-secret Air Force sniper team. According to years of research in many, many beer joints, the Air Froce had more snipers in Viet Nam than the Marines.

  12. avatar Nathan says:

    I understand why they made the decision, and intellectually I agree with them that this is a protected form of free speech…but it’s still bullshit and I would want to beat the stuffing out of anyone who did this.

    1. avatar Michael B. says:

      Then you’re no better than a barbarian.

      1. avatar I_Like_Pie says:

        Barbarians have rights too….and if they cross the line it should be the local Po-Po and not the supreme court deciding their fate.

    2. avatar matt says:

      More evidence that service members are more than willing to violently oppress their follow countrymen, for simply exercising their rights. I thought you always liked to say that you fought for our rights? Except when you disagree with them? What will happen when the government inevitably orders the service members to seize our guns?

      1. avatar HSR47 says:

        Objection; prejudicial and relying on facts not in evidence.

        Where does Nathan claim to be a current member of the armed forces, or a veteran thereof?

  13. avatar Ralph says:

    The right to lie is the wellspring of all our other rights, including the right to live. If you don’t believe me, man up and tell your spouse that her new dress actually does make her ass look fat.

    1. avatar LeftShooter says:

      Ralph, I agree with you, but do you think the “manning up” that you and I have done in the past may be related to the number of ex-wives we have between us?

    2. avatar Sanchanim says:

      Yeah being honest it well dumb in that regard. Hence I have a very comfortable couch lol

    3. avatar Mark N. says:

      And if we make lying illegal, the first problem we have is who gets to decide what is a lie nad what is not? What if you were simply mistaken? And the second problem is that all the politicians would be in jail…oh wait…

  14. avatar IdahoPete says:

    Have I ever mentioned that I am an undocumented FBI Special Super-Duper Agent, with arrest powers and a right to carry a gun anywhere in the world? Hey, I even have a genuine plastic Junior G-Man badge! Plus, I am a secret undercover undocumented BATFE agent! So I can walk into any gun store in America and walk out with any guns I want!

    And all of those lies are now protected speech, just like some lowlife scumbag claiming to have won military medals. Wonder how that argument would fly with the Supreme-o’s if I ever attempted to actually impersonate a law enforcement officer?

    What Congress needs to do is pass a law that makes “a hard slap on the wrist” the only allowable state or federal penalty for a veteran who beats the sh*t out of a stolen valor scumbag.

    1. avatar HSR47 says:

      “Plus, I am a secret undercover undocumented BATFE agent! So I can walk into any gun store in America and walk out with any guns I want! ”

      Assuming you, or anyone else for that matter, could actually pull that off, it would be fraud, plain and simple. You’re comparing apples and oranges, try again.

  15. avatar Joseph says:

    It’s called freedom, and it has been paid for by men and women of much better character than I sometimes see exhibited here. However, free speech is free speech. If being an asshole was illegal, half the country would be in prison.

  16. avatar Don says:

    If you’re going to make it a crime to be a slime ball where does it stop?
    Like it or not, it’s a form of free speech unless it is used for fraud to deprive someone of life, liberty or property.
    Ignoring idiots and not giving them the attention they desire is the best way to deal with it.

    1. avatar HSR47 says:

      “Ignoring idiots and not giving them the attention they desire is the best way to deal with it.”

      Actually, it seems to me that the way to handle idiots like Alverez is to give them MORE attention; specifically, the way to handle them is to use the internet to shine light on their mendacious claims. Then, you game the search engines so that the truth ends up as the top result on all the search engines.

  17. avatar James says:

    It’s very interesting to read through the comments here, given the topic.

    I would venture (and have seen comments written under the various screen names to back it up) that a number of people fall into the “cold, dead hands” crowd.

    What strikes me is how quickly those same people jump headfirst into the “there oughta be a law” camp when the issue is something they hold dear, like their worship and idolatry of the uniformed agents of the State.

    This is probably the most glaring non-issue around these days. Some guy, somewhere in Jerkwater, USA, claimed to be a Marine when he wasn’t. Well, hell. Let’s pass laws. It should be a felony! Five years and/or $25,000 fines! And a thousand hours of community service.

    The antis, I can understand. They have an ideology, the openly preach it. Sure, it’s delusional and utopian, but it’s theirs and they own it. You guys, on the other hand…

    You claim to be pro-freedom – or at least, pro-2A – and yet you worship and deify those who can and do willingly and knowingly rob you of your freedom at every chance, specifically LEOs and military. Hardly a day goes by without a new video of someone being tazed or beaten within inches of their life for what amounts to little more than failing to genuflect before a cop. And these military heroes you deify were just in St. Louis, MO a couple weeks ago getting ready to “protect our freedom” from ourselves, acting out Martial Law scenarios on the streets of an American city.

    As far as I’m concerned, where the rubber meets the road under the revised rules of conflict, you pro-State ninnies are every bit as much of a target as anyone or anything.

    1. avatar Redleg says:

      What some here don’t seem to get is that anyone who is falsely claiming a medal is ALWAYS doing so to attempt to achieve an advantage, and therefore is committing fraud. There’s a good chance that the law was poorly written, and was rightly struck down. That doesn’t remove the fradulent nature of the claim though.

      1. avatar James says:

        What others here don’t seem to get is that the government is not your friend. It is not your mother. It is not benevolence.

        Government is violence, and the threat of violence. What is it, then, if it is not that?

        Without violence, the government is powerless to enforce its edicts. Without violence, the government is like a toothless child trying to gum some nutrition out of a well-done steak.

        Every law passed gives the government another chance to use its violence against someone, somewhere, for some reason.

        How many laws are on the books these days? Between federal, state and local laws, around the country, I’d guess millions. Any single one of them is a justification for the state to inflict violence upon you.

        Do we really need another law?

        1. avatar Redleg says:

          I wasn’t arguing for any other laws. There are laws against fraud already on the books. Use those.

  18. avatar Boris says:

    Obama fought bravely in the Indonesian conflict which gave him PTSD and several medals and commendations.

  19. avatar Jay says:

    It IS freedom of speech.

    Don’t give your emotions control over your logic.

    The health care issue is a separate topic. It should be just as obvious as free speech; no one has the right to force someone to buy something they do not want.

  20. avatar GS650G says:

    With one decision they cheapened the medals down. Quite appalling. I’ve met a few heroes who gave it all for this country and were recognized for it. Now we see it’s OK to bullshit everyone about doing the same and it’s A-OK.

    Not in my book. Too bad we can’t vote out somebody as payback, but we can clearly turn our back on those guilty of this.

  21. avatar matt says:

    So i’m a evil person for having my grand fathers unit and rank patches on my M65 jacket? Is anyone really going to believe that a 28 year old was in 379th bombardment group?

    1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      Are you claiming time in service? Or are you wearing them for their nostalgic value? There is a difference, you know.

      1. avatar matt says:

        For now, nostalgic value, when my grandmother passes away and I get the rest of the patches, it will be for trolling because i’ll have a Luftwaffe patch on the jacket too.

        1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          So, you do recognize that there is a difference between what you’re doing and what the asshat who was the subject of the case before the court was doing. That’s refreshing.

        2. avatar matt says:

          The “asshat” the article was about was never in the military, so I could be lumped in with him I suppose, given the opinion of some commentators here.

          I have his service ribbons which I could put on there, which would certainly violate the act, they are just too colorful for my taste. I havent bothered to read the actual text of the law, but I’ve always wondered if it would cover the rank patches.

          You know i’m outspoken enough against service members to know that I wouldnt claim to be one. Although some people assumed I was a vet before I got those patches just because I walked around in a woodland M65 jacket. Yes people in Chicago are that stupid.

        3. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          Clearly. So your question “So i’m a evil person for having my grand fathers unit and rank patches on my M65 jacket?” seems a bit nonsensical to me. I suspect that nobody who has seen you in person would ever believe that you had been in the service. For the record, I do believe that false claims of military service and/or medals are protected by the first amendment. I also believe that everyone must live with the consequences of the lies they tell.

        4. avatar matt says:

          Moonshine7102 says:
          June 28, 2012 at 18:21
          “I suspect that nobody who has seen you in person would ever believe that you had been in the service. ”

          matt says:
          June 28, 2012 at 18:17
          “Although some people assumed I was a vet before I got those patches just because I walked around in a woodland M65 jacket. Yes people in Chicago are that stupid.”

      2. avatar HSR47 says:

        That’s one of the big issues with the SVA: it doesn’t distinguish between the two.

        Hell, by my reading of it, it even makes it illegal to go to a costume party as a service member.

  22. avatar LeftShooter says:

    This whole issue reminds me of a story my dad told. During the Korean Conflict he and a group of his airmen buddies encountered a mouthy Canadian sailor on shore leave in Guam who proclaimed that the Yanks couldn’t win any wars by themselves and needed to call in their allies (the Canadians) to help them fight, just as in WWII. In response, the airmen appeared to take the high road by buying lots of drinks for their newfound “ally/savior.” Once he was sufficiently inebriated , the airmen took him downtown and paid to have a large American flag tattooed on his chest. Given the gang showers used aboard ships, it is unlikely that that young Canadian sailor ever forgot the “kindness” bestowed upon him by military men of a grateful nation.

    The lesson here seems obvious. Maybe we could “award” a medal to those who falsely claim to have earned them—by tattooing the appropriate medal to their chest, or their forehead, for that matter! 

  23. avatar Tarrou (Joshua Grabow) says:

    As a current Supreme Court Justice, I’m infuriated I wasn’t consulted on this case.

    Laws will be what laws will be. All I can do is ensure that any dipshit who wears a Purple Heart earns it, either before or after I meet him.

  24. avatar Ian says:

    Ever see the last star fighter? I’m the guy that was based on, buy me beer please

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email