Mar 22, 2011

Ninth Circuit strikes down Stolen Valor Act

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the 2005 Stolen Valor Act in reviewing a case brought against Xavier Alvarez for lying about winning the Medal of Honor during his made-up tour of Vietnam.

The law, which made it a felony, to claim an un-earned military medal, was used by prosecutors to charge Alvarez for statements he made in 2007 as a member of the Claremont-based Three Valleys Municipal Water District board of directors. Alvarez faced jail time and fines for violating the law.

The court ruled the law to be unconstitutional. From the LA Times:
"If false factual statements are unprotected, then the government can prosecute not only the man who tells tall tales of winning the congressional Medal of Honor, but also the JDater who falsely claims he's Jewish or the dentist who assures you it won't hurt a bit," Kozinski wrote in defense of the 1st Amendment.

"Phrases such as 'I'm working late tonight, hunny,' 'I got stuck in traffic' and 'I didn't inhale' could all be made into crimes," Kozinski argued. "Without the robust protections of the 1st Amendment, the white lies, exaggerations and deceptions that are an integral part of human intercourse would become targets of censorship."
I'd argued back in 2008 that the prosecution was a waste of time.

1 comment:

John Clifford said...

Thank god for a court system that defends our right to lie. At least it shows a separation of church and state as I seem to recall a religious prohibition against "bearing false witness."

Now, can we get Xavier Alvarez on fraud since he used his protected right to lie to hoodwink voters into electing him to the water board?

As a supporter of free speech, this one is a little over the top for me.