In yet another stunningly surprise ruling, the court ruled in a 6 to 3 decision that “the government does not have the power to punish people for making false claims regarding military service or honors.”
The government has the right to force Americans to purchase expensive health insurance or be fined, but cannot prosecute those who lie and steal the valor of honorable Veterans by falsely claiming receiving Medals of Valor awarded to Heroes for conspicuous gallantry in battle?
Free speech advocates are praising the decision, but since when does free speech give anyone a right to steal the valor of true Heroes?
We have long acknowledged that free speech has its limits, such as yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.
Justice Kennedy, writing the majority decision said,
“Content-based restrictions on speech have been permitted only for a few historic categories of speech, including incitement, obscenity, defamation, speech integral to criminal conduct, so-called ‘fightingwords,’ child pornography, fraud, true threats, and speech presenting some grave and imminent threat the Government has the power to prevent.”Does he not see that those making such false claims of heroism, many who never served at all, is “fraud and defamation of honorable Veterans?” Many of these poseurs act contrary to honorable Veterans, calling scorn on all of us, the public believing they too are veterans.
In the particular case that brought this before the High Court, the case of Xavier Alvarez a former member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Pomona, California was charged with falsely claiming to have served in the United States Armed Services and with being awarded the nation’s highest award for valor in combat, the Medal of Honor.
As my friend and former ACLU attorney Rees Lloyd said,
“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. He never served a day.”Alvarez claimed his lies were “protected speech” under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Justice Kennedy also wrote,
“While the Government’s interest in protecting the integrity of the Medal of Honor is beyond question, the First Amendment requires that there be a direct causal link between the restriction imposed and the injury to be prevented. Here, that link has not been shown. The Government points to no evidence supporting its claim that the public’s general perception of military awards is diluted by false claims such as those made by respondent. And it has not shown, and cannot show, why counterspeech, such as the ridicule respondent received online and in the press, would not suffice to achieve its interest.”Alvarez used his false claims to be elected to office, a paid office he otherwise might not have been elected to.
And if they feel “counter speech and ridicule” is enough to suffice such bogus claims, one only needs look back at how the Swiftboat Veterans and POWs for Truth were treated by Democrats and much of the public to this day over their effort to oust sweetheart traitor to all Vietnam veterans, Massachusetts Democrat Senator, John F’in Kerry in the 2004 Presidential elections, who still freely serves in the Senate instead of sitting in Leavenworth Prison where he should be.
Kerry ran on false claims of heroics in a scant 4 months service in Vietnam and came very close to being elected, in spite of his past connections to Communists and anti-American activists.
The American Legion is standing in disagreement to this decision and “calling on Congress to pass a new version of the Stolen Valor Act, one that would stand up to constitutional scrutiny.”
National Commander Fang A. Wong said,
“While we are obviously saddened and aggrieved by the overall decision in this case, we felt good about the portions of the decision which suggest that a more narrowly tailored bill, which incorporates traditional fraud elements, would be upheld. Since the vast bulk of the more notorious valor thieves engage in this to gain something of value as a result, they will not be able to claim legal immunity once a new bill is passed.”It’s now up to Congress to pass a Stolen Valor Act that will pass Constitutional muster. Such an act has been written, H.R. 1775: Stolen Valor Act of 2011, currently languishing in Committee.
It is felt that this bill would pass the Supreme Court and uphold the honor of those of our Veterans who sacrificed gravely in combat.
Given decisions of late, we would have to see it go through the Court to know whether or not they would uphold this.
But whether it is this bill or another one written, Congress must act to stop the phonies, the poseurs who cower in fear behind heroes and then, step up and lay claim to their valor.
The honor of our Veterans is something of value, a great value worth more than just money.
That value must be protected and honored.