Does the First Amendment include the right to knowingly lie about military service?

Has it really come to this? From the LA Times:

Xavier Alvarez told of playing hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, marrying a Mexican starlet, piloting a helicopter in Vietnam and suffering gunshot wounds while rescuing the American ambassador during the Iran hostage crisis. All were lies.

He got into legal trouble, however, when he stood up at a water board meeting in Pomona in 2007 and described himself as a retired Marine who had received the Medal of Honor.
He joined a number of men who lied about their military service and claimed medals they did not win. More than a third of “Who’s Who” profiles that listed top military honors could not be confirmed through military records, a Chicago Tribune investigation found in 2008.

The Supreme Court will take up Alvarez’s case Wednesday to decide whether the 1st Amendment protects not just the freedom of speech but a right to lie about military honors.

In my southern hometown, a dude like this was exposed once. I remember it vividly because he–a man holding an elected political position–proudly proclaimed his honorable military service from every rooftop he could. Heroic deeds. How heroic to lie, eh? This is so much of a problem that it’s now illegal to do. That apparently rubbed Xavier Alvarez, who then sued (seriously?!) after he was fined for breaking a federal law.

Congress enacted the Stolen Valor Act in 2006 to make it a crime to falsely claim a military honor. And Alvarez, once he was exposed, was convicted and fined $5,000.

But his “everyone lies” defense won at the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals, which struck down the law on free-speech grounds on a 2-1 vote. It would be “terrifying,” said Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, if the government’s “truth police” could go after people for the “white lies, exaggerations and deceptions that are an integral part of human intercourse.”

What has Limbaugh always called the 9th? The 9th Circus? That’s it. No wonder. And now we have a boob whose headed to the Supreme Court to fight for his right to lie–oh, ‘scuse me, his “exaggeration and deception” that’s apparently “an integral part of human intercourse.”

Vile. But maybe the judge is right. Why fine a man beyond shame? I’d throw him into a room full of pregnant military their children halfway through a deployment instead. We know how to handle his kind.

Just sayin’.

H/t: Hot Air headlines

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8 Responses

  1. I would think that it is protected speech. Offensive for sure, but I don’t see how the government can punish him for it.

    I hope you are feeling well and that new baby is treating his/her mommy well.

    • Thanks, JACG. New baby is kicking lots ; ) Insanely busy lately because my husband is away for a while. Between juggling the homeschooled preschooler, the kicker, and the volunteer work to help other families, the blog has suffered. Oddly enough, because I usually get more done when I can’t get away with eggs for dinner ; )

      My father-in-law: doesn’t the military have support groups for wives when husbands are gone?
      Me: yes. I’m in charge of it. Which is why I’m so insanely busy….. lol!

  2. If burning a flag is protected free speech . . .

    Problem is most of these stolen valor cases also involve some form of fraud as well. If the lies are protected free speech that can’t be punished then beating his a** in response should also be protected free speech.

    • Burning a flag doesn’t involve a known false statement, though, largebill.

      And as for the beating of said pogue being protected free speech, ROTFL, yes, I agree. ; )

      • It’s not a crime to be a compulsive lair. If this particular form of compulsive lying is criminalized, where do we draw the line?

      • True enough. But lying on tax documents is a crime, no?

      • Right, it’s fraud. Lying under oath is also a crime. If lying about military service is a part of a larger scheme, then, it seems to me, it would be punishable under other laws.

      • But lying about military service to procure a job, an elected position, etc… is still fraud. I need to look up the text of the law–I vaguely remember it passing in 2006 but never concerned myself with it then.

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