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SCOTUS: Lying about military service is not a crime

5:41 PM, Jun 28, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - The U. S. Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime to lie about military service.

By a 6-3 decision, the high court said the right to lie about medals and military service is protected by free speech.

The decision came in the light of Xavier Alvarez's case.  Alvarez, who is from Pomona Calif., was sentenced to three years of probation and a $5,000 fine. He said he was a former Marine and recipient of the Medal of Honor.

It was all a lie; Alvarez never served in the military.  The Supreme Court said Thursday you can't make something like that a crime.

"I'm very upset about it because in my opinion, it's a travesty of justice," Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veteran Jim Rowoldt said. 

McGeorge School of Law Professor John Sims is not surprised by the court's ruling.

 "Even if the speech that we're talking about is offensive and doesn't seem to do any social good, uh it's recognized that it is a very dangerous process set in motion once government starts saying what people can say and what they can't," Sims said.

As for falsifying military information, there are already statutes in place for perjury and falsifying information to a government official.

Legal experts said the problem with the Stolen Valor Act is that it is too broad.

"It's not right there's too much blood on our soils in defense of this country for somebody to be able to wear them who is not authorized," Rowoldt said.

"Just the fact that people don't like it, isn't enough of an interest to justify suppression," Sims said.


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