Policy & Strategy

High court tosses law making it a crime to lie about military medals

In the undercard to the Supreme Court’s momentous
healthcare decision Thursday, the court overturned the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to lie about winning military honors.

The court struck down the law, passed by Congress under
President George W. Bush, ruling in a 6-3 decision that it violated the First Amendment protections on free speech.

But the court did say that the law the act has “substantial
justification,” and could be rewritten by Congress in a narrower fashion,
something that lawmakers are likely to attempt.

{mosads}“The First Amendment risks flowing from the Act’s breadth of
coverage could be diminished or eliminated by a more finely tailored statute,
for example, a statute that requires a showing that the false statement caused
specific harm or is focused on lies more likely to be harmful or on contexts
where such lies are likely to cause harm,” the court wrote.

Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas dissented in the case.

The court took on the Stolen Valor Act over the case of Xavier
Alvarez, who had publicly claimed to have won the Medal of Honor but had never
served in the military.

He was found guilty, but his lawyers challenged the constitutionality
of the law.

The Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that also found
Stolen Valor unconstitutional.


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