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2010-08-23
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Stolen Valor Act Ruled Unconstitutional

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A few months ago I wrote about the Stolen Valor Act (pdf) and a guy named Rick Strandlof that was facing charges for falsely claiming to be a Purple Heart recipient, war veteran and Naval Academy graduate. In July, a Federal judge dismissed the case with a ruling that requires the government to show a reason to restrict his freedom of speech. A few days ago, the US Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed another case of stolen valor where Xavier Alvarez claimed to be a retired marine awarded the Medal of Honor for service in either Vietnam or the liberation of Americans from Iran (his stories vary). The panel concluded, "We have no doubt that society would be better off if Alvarez would stop spreading worthless, ridiculous, and offensive untruths. But, given our historical skepticism of permitting the government to police the line between truth and falsity, and between valuable speech and drivel, we preemptively protect all speech, including false statements, in order that clearly protected speech may flower in the shelter of the First Amendment."

Check out the Hall of Stolen Valor tracked by MilitaryTimes for a listing of folks caught fraudulently claiming service and/or valor.


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