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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.
And the other 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."
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.
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.
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.
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.