Mike Kueber's Blog

June 30, 2012

The Supreme Court kills the Stolen Valor Act

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 4:19 am
Tags: ,

Although the Supreme Court’s ruling on ObamaCare has dominated the news this past week, the Court also handed down another interesting (and disappointing) decision on the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime for individuals to lie about their military-medal achievements.  Unlike its ruling that approved ObamaCare, the Court’s opinion on the Stolen Valor Act held that the Act violated free speech and thus was unconstitutional.  Thus, individuals in America have the right to falsely claim that they have earned a Congressional Medal of Honor.  You can’t know how much I appreciate having that right. 

In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the Act “would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable.”  And what would be wrong with that? 

Under current law, content-based restrictions on free speech have been permitted only for a few historic categories of speech, including incitement, obscenity, defamation, speech integral to criminal conduct, so-called “fighting words,” child pornography, fraud, true threats, and speech presenting some grave and imminent threat the Government has the power to prevent.  Justice Kennedy concluded that the harm from medal-related lies was not sufficiently significant to be included in this list.  Based on the Court’s apparent intention with its ObamaCare decision to find a way to uphold a federal law, it seems the same intention did not apply to the Stolen Valor Act. 

Personally, I disagree with the decision because I think the harm caused by medal boasters is significant.  Not only does it mislead the listener, but it also diminishes the honor of those who earned their medals.

 

 

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