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Appeals court rules Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional

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posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 05:56 PM
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Appeals court rules Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional


CNN.com



By Bill Mears, CNNAugust 18, 2010 1:13 p.m. EDT
Washington (CNN) -- Lying about military honors is not a crime, a federal appeals court has ruled, tossing out the prosecution of a California public official who falsely claimed to have won the prestigious Medal of Honor.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 there was inadequate "compelling governmental interest" when Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act in 2006.


(visit the link for the full news article)


Related News Links:
www.cnn.com
www.military.com

Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion Threads:
A victory for the 1st ammendment, or is it?
Charged with Stolen Valor (Military Award Fraud)

[edit on August 18th 2010 by greeneyedleo]

[edit on 8/18/2010 by semperfortis]




posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 05:56 PM
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The Stolen Valor Act was signed into law in 2005. This act made wearing and claiming of military medals and decorations not earned by the wearer/claimer for their military service, a misdemeanor offense. Stolen Valor Act

Now a Federal Judges has ruled this act unconstitutional because it violates free speech!

What is that? It is now ok and perfectly legal under the law for anyone to walk around wearing military medals and claiming they earned them in the military EVEN IF they never served a day in the military? Yes! So, all those legitimate military members who actually did earn their medals can stand next to frauds wearing the same medals and there is no repercussion?! Yes that is right, they can.

One side says:

"This is an issue of fraud, plain and simple," Salazar wrote in an e-mail Friday. "The individuals who violate this law are those who knowingly portray themselves as pillars of the community for personal and monetary gain. The Stolen Valor Act has been upheld by other courts and I am confident this decision will be overturned on appeal."
And the other side says:

Robert Pepin, Strandlof's attorney; the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado; and the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties group, all filed briefs with Blackburn contesting the Stolen Valor Act.

They argued that simply lying is not illegal.


www.denverpost.com...

There are numerous stories out there were someone has claimed military service and medals and it has been used to benefit them somehow. Before it was a crime, now it is not.

I found a website: ReportStolenValor.org Where you could report these frauds and the site would report to the media and law enforcement. Guess that site will be pointless now.


So ATSers....What do you think about this? Appalling? No big deal - everyone has the right to role play? And do you think making this claim is actually protected under "free speech"?



www.denverpost.com
(visit the link for the full news article)

 

Adding some more news articles:
atwar.blogs.nytimes.com...

www.stripes.com...

Constitutional Law Professor Blog

[edit on August 18th 2010 by greeneyedleo]



posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 06:03 PM
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I would bet that in the wildest dreams of our Founding Fathers,
they would have NEVER thought that the First Ammendment would be used to protect a lie.

Just dispicable.



posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 06:05 PM
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reply to post by greeneyedleo
 


I think the judge did the right thing.

I think it is absolutely despicable to lie about having served, but I don't see how it can be illegal without infringing on free speech.

As the judge pointed out, there are laws against fraud, and if the man in question had used the lie for personal financial benefit he could have been charged under those.



posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 08:11 PM
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Originally posted by americandingbat
reply to post by greeneyedleo
 


I think the judge did the right thing.

I think it is absolutely despicable to lie about having served, but I don't see how it can be illegal without infringing on free speech.

As the judge pointed out, there are laws against fraud, and if the man in question had used the lie for personal financial benefit he could have been charged under those.


I don`t find this strange at all. It tells you the mind set anymore. Like, why is it illegal only when money is involved? I guess it doen`t matter if it`s an over blown lie then. And so, if it`s only the ego that benefits from it, that`s ok then. Wow, what is this country turning into? A country where morals and integrity mean absolutely nothing anymore.



posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 09:48 PM
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This has been a law in Canada for a while now...
laws.justice.gc.ca...:419

Unlawful use of military uniforms or certificates
419. Every one who without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on him,
(a) wears a uniform of the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force or a uniform that is so similar to the uniform of any of those forces that it is likely to be mistaken therefor,
(b) wears a distinctive mark relating to wounds received or service performed in war, or a military medal, ribbon, badge, chevron or any decoration or order that is awarded for war services, or any imitation thereof, or any mark or device or thing that is likely to be mistaken for any such mark, medal, ribbon, badge, chevron, decoration or order,
(c) has in his possession a certificate of discharge, certificate of release, statement of service or identity card from the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force that has not been issued to and does not belong to him, or
(d) has in his possession a commission or warrant or a certificate of discharge, certificate of release, statement of service or identity card, issued to an officer or a person in or who has been in the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force, that contains any alteration that is not verified by the initials of the officer who issued it, or by the initials of an officer thereto lawfully authorized,
is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 377.


It isn't about free speech up here, it is about criminally impersonating a member of the Armed Forces. I don't know why your Constitution would bother to protect someone who is doing something illegal. Fraud is illegal isn't it? If they impersonate a member of the military, it is fraud. I can't wear the uniform of a cop, a fireman, doctor, a nurse, or just about any other professional and claim all kinds of deeds. It is against the law.

Now I know that America looks at free speech different than we do but I have to ask. Isn't yelling fire when there is none in a crowded room or enclosed public space a crime? What about playing games with the TSA and saying you have a bomb while passing through an airport when you really don't, that's a crime as well isn't it? Yes I understand that this is a different set of circumstances and the publics safety wasn't threatened by his lies but were the public threatened by the other lies? You could argue the yelling fire would I suppose. The panic it would cause could hurt people. The lie itself was only words though right? How can one set of lies being covered yet another are not? That is an honest question because I am not an American and am not sure.

Another question I have is this. Couldn't he have just decided to start a Veterans Assoc. as a civilian to give back to the men and women who served as a sign of support and respect. None of the articles say that he actually profited from this fraud. So does that make his crime a victimless one. Yes, I'll call it crime because I believe it is a crime to impersonate a member of the armed forces. Was no one hurt because of this fraud?



posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 11:04 PM
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reply to post by GAOTU789
 


From what I've read about this today, it seems that the key difference between this law and the ones you've cited from Canada is that this one made claiming verbally to have receive an honor you haven't received a crime. I don't see that in the law you cite.

I've only just started skimming the decision, but it can be obtained in pdf form here:
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, listed as "U.S.A. v. Xavier Alvarez".

 


adding to this post:

Here's an exerpt from the decision (source at the link given earlier):

Although we believe that Congress could revisit the Act to modify it into a properly tailored fraud statute, we are not permitted to suggest how it could be done, since such would be a “ ‘serious invasion of the legislative domain.’ ” Stevens, 130 S. Ct. at 1592 (quoting United States v. Nat’l Treasury Employees Union, 513 U.S. 454, 479 n.26 (1995)). Accordingly, we cannot construe the Act as falling within the historical First Amendment exception for anti-fraud laws.




[edit on 8/18/2010 by americandingbat]



posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 11:21 PM
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reply to post by greeneyedleo
 


Yes, it is despicable and horrible. They are among the lower life forms of our society, for taking credit for the blood spilled by someone else.

Regardless, yes it is free speech. So they are selling themselves as something they are not. This is where the principle of "caveat emptor" comes in. Let the buyer beware.



posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 11:35 PM
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The judge made the right call.



A fellow should be able to dress up in all the medals he wants, and make up any ridiculous war stories he wants.

I can see how it would offend veterans, but offending someone is not illegal. (people take offense to all kinds of nonsense). And while it would certainly take a despicable person to do such a thing, it violates nobody's rights, and falls completely under the purview of the 1st amendment.

In my opinion, the "Stolen Valor Act" amounted to little more than thought crime. As already pointed out, fraud laws do exist if someone uses their fake medals and stories to get a job or veteran's discount or something. Other than that, it's just someone playing dress-up, and should be completely legal.



posted on Aug, 19 2010 @ 03:08 AM
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Sweet Halloween is legal again



posted on Aug, 19 2010 @ 07:20 AM
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Having served in the Army for some time, I'm of the opinion that if someone wants to claim to have won something they didn't, they can go for it.

Claiming to have won a medal is one thing. Having the DD214 to back it up is different altogether. Let them present a forged or illegally altered government document, and see what the courts say about that.

Having served in the military and falsely claiming heroic exploits is kind of a given, especially for those who never saw combat, and those who have don't talk about it, and probably don't really care about their medals so much. They're more happy to have their lives.

Who would put it past a politician to lie about anything to get ahead, anyway. They're all a bunch of pogues.



posted on Aug, 19 2010 @ 07:27 AM
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I also think it's extraordinarily stupid to have claimed to have won the MOH if you didn't. There's like a list.... and there aren't that many names on it.

This guy's an idiot and needs to be elected out of office on that alone.



posted on Aug, 19 2010 @ 07:31 AM
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reply to post by americandingbat
 

So, sounds like the law just has to be reworded, and we're back in business. Congress...get on it!



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