By Rees Lloyd
Alvarez brazenly boasted publicly that he was a former Marine and Medal of Honor recipient to boost his career as a minor Democratic Party politician, and decked himself out in a fake Army (not Marine) dress uniform with a chest full of medals which he didn't earn -- because he never served a day. (Alvarez' medal-bedecked photo appears in a California Bar Journal story on his case at: http://www.calbarjournal.com/November2011/TopHeadlines/TH1.aspx )
Alvarez, exposed by a real former Marine, Melissa Campbell, assisted by American Legion Post 79 and District 21, and by legendary broadcast journalist and WWII Marine the-late George Putnam, a member of Post 79(see below), pleaded guilty in federal court to violation of the Stolen Valor Act, which imposes criminal penalties for false claims of receipt of the Medal of Honor or other medals of valor by imposters.
However, Alvarez filed an appeal at taxpayer expense represented by the Federal Public Defender, cheered on by the ACLU, which never met a criminal, terrorist, or pervert it didn’t like, or a patriot it didn’t despise.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, in a 2-to-1 decision, overturned Alvarez’ conviction, holding that the Stolen Valor Act is an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment "freedom of speech." The dissenting judge criticized the decision for effectively creating a constitutional "right to lie."
The Ninth Circuit’s decision nullifying the Stolen Valor Act and establishing an unprecedented constitutional “right to lie” generated a tsunami of criticism. For one instance, Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady (USA ret.), a genuine Medal of Honor recipient (Vietnam), told me: “I just can’t understand how anyone, including judges, can believe that General George Washington and the Founding Fathers intended to create a First Amendment Constitutional ‘right to lie’ about military service and receiving the Medal of Honor or other medals of valor. It just defies common sense.”
Despite the nationwide outcry, the Ninth Circuit denied a petition for rehearing by the original three-member panel, or re-hearing en banc (i.e., by a full panel). Ironically, a concurring opinion supporting denial of rehearing was written by Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kosinski, an exposed Porno Pervert who is as much a disgrace to his public office as Alvarez was to his.
That is, Kosinski, in 2008, was exposed, tried, and convicted by a panel of his federal judge peers (who gave him a slap on the wrist) for publishing on his publicly available website graphic pornography degrading to women, including images of naked women painted as cows and posed on all fours in a field. Porno Pervert Kosinski, an unelected, unaccountable, federal judge for life, remains the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit.
It took the courage of former Marine Melissa Campbell to expose the dishonorable cretin Xavier Alvarez, whose conviction Presiding Pervert Kosinski, et al., have overturned. Melissa Campbell paid a heavy price for her courage: Alvarez used his position as an elected Water Board member to have her fired.
That is, when Campbell was involved in a business meeting between the firm for which she worked in community relations and the Water Board, the despicable Alvarez sat down next to her and tried to charm her with his tale of being an oft-wounded combat Marine who received the Medal of Honor. However, when Melissa Campbell responded that she, too, was a former Marine and began asking Alvarez questions about his Marine service, Alvarez, fearing exposure, changed his attitude and complained to her firm that she was harassing him with questions. He demanded that she be fired. She was fired, her firm fearing negative action on its business with the Water Board by Alvarez.
However, Alvarez’ attempt to silence Melissa Campbell by having her fired didn’t deter her. Legion Post 79 and District 21 became involved when I was contacted to provide representation to Melissa Campbell for her wrongful discharge. (I agreed, but she soon obtained other employment and decided not to sue.) I was also contacted to confirm that Alvarez was a member of The American Legion, as he claimed on the Water Board’s website. Another lie. I demanded the Water Board remove the false claim from its website or we would sue. It was removed. George Putnam, himself a Marine, was the first to broadcast on his “Original Talk Back” radio show news of the bravery of former Marine Melissa Campbell, and the corruption of the fake Marine Xaiver Alvarez. Federal investigation, prosecution, and conviction of Alvarez by guilty plea followed.
Alvarez, although publicly exposed, refused to resign his Water Board public office. He was removed upon his conviction. Although his Stolen Valor Act conviction was overturned, Alvarez remains in prison on conviction of fraud in his Water Board elected office which was discovered in the course of the Stolen Valor investigation.
The Supreme Court will now review the 9th Circuit’s creation of a constitutional “right-to-lie” in the Alvarez Stolen Valor Act case. That is good, but we cannot now sit with thumbs atwiddle in the mere hope that the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court will do the right thing. We must act to demand that the Congress and/or the Executive Branch act to protect the integrity of the Stolen Valor Act no matter what the Supreme Court does or doesn’t do.
“I hope a way will be found by Congress, and the Executive Branch, to protect the meaning and integrity of the Medal of Honor, and other medals of valor, from abuse and exploitation by charlatans under this 9th Circuit decision,” said Maj. Gen. Brady, one of only ninety living recipients of the nation’s highest medal of valor, the Medal of Honor. It is up to us, all Americans in general and veterans in particular, to take action to make that hope become a reality.
[Rees Lloyd is a longtime California civil rights attorney and veterans activist now residing in Portland, Oregon.]