Author Topic: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional  (Read 4898 times)

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Offline Martok

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(Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« on: June 28, 2012, 11:03:20 AM »
Between the rulings on Arizona's immigration law and now Obama's health care reform legislation, I'm almost surprised anyone even noticed this one


Quote


SCOTUS strikes down Stolen Valor Act
By Tom Curry, msnbc.com National Affairs Writer


The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law called the Stolen Valor Act which prohibits a person from falsely claiming that he has been awarded a military honor.

The case involved Xavier Alvarez who was an elected member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District Board in Pomona, California. In 2007 Alvarez said at a public water district board meeting that he was a retired Marine, had been “wounded many times,” and had been “awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor” in 1987.

In fact, he had never served in the United States armed forces.

He pleaded guilty to violating the Stolen Valor Act, but claimed that his false statements were protected by the First Amendment right of free speech.

In defending the law, the Obama administration had argued that “military awards serve as public symbols of honor and prestige, conveying the nation’s gratitude for acts of valor and sacrifice; and they foster morale… and esprit de corps within the military.  False claims to have received military awards undermine the system’s ability to fulfill these purposes” and “make the public skeptical of all claims to have received awards….”

But Alvarez’s lawyers contended that the First Amendment freedom of speech protected “exaggerated anecdotes, barroom braggadocio, and cocktail party puffery.”

His lawyers said that there was no evidence that false claims undermined the integrity of military medals, and to the extent they do affect their integrity, the government “should encourage counter-speech or legislate against actual fraud,” – and Alvarez wasn’t accused of fraud, only of false speech.



So now what?  There's gotta be some way to stop these douchebags from pulling this crap. 


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Offline son_of_montfort

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2012, 11:09:04 AM »
I, for one, am glad that the First Amendment protects "cocktail party puffery." I mean, what else are academics to do when they gather?!  ;)

The SCOTUS has had a busy week, and the seem bound and determined to rile people up. I guess I understand the idea of Freedom of Speech here, but it just seems so sleazy.
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Offline Windigo

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2012, 11:56:07 AM »
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Offline Martok

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2012, 12:02:09 PM »
I guess I understand the idea of Freedom of Speech here, but it just seems so sleazy.

Yeah, I don't blame SCOTUS for ruling the way they did, but at the same time it's monstrous that there are those who would claim military service...and now we have no way to punish them for it. 


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Offline Jack Nastyface

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2012, 12:09:15 PM »
I don't have an objection to “exaggerated anecdotes, barroom braggadocio, and cocktail party puffery”, when used in those type of social circumstances...but touting an imaginary service record as a matter of public record and in the hopes of receiving public accolades and / or support is anathema.  This law should be upheld.

I think the only difficulty I have is when it comes to those dishonorable few who falsely claim combat injury, emotional distress or PTSD.  Meaning:  if a army payroll clerk in Des Moines (who has never served in a combat theatre) claims emotional trauma because he saw a fictitious buddy take an RPG...is there / should there be a way to formally discipline this kind of attention seeking behavior?
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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2012, 02:24:44 PM »
Having not served in the military or inculcated in that tradition, the offensiveness of faked military honors is less offensive to me than, for example, an anti-semitic or other racial online rant. (I do not mean to dismiss or demean anyone's disgust with fake militar honors.)

I think the Supreme Court did the right thing. I am loathe to invoke the slippery slope, but we need to retain freedom of speech as close to an absolute as possible. There is possibly no quicker path to a tyranny of the majority.

Having said that, any jackadoodle making up military honors deserves our condemnation and disgust. It's a slap in the face to anyone who has served, honoured or not. It's horribly, massively wrong.

If I were french, I would fart in their general direction.

Offline Staggerwing

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2012, 02:49:16 PM »
I don't have an objection to “exaggerated anecdotes, barroom braggadocio, and cocktail party puffery”, when used in those type of social circumstances...but touting an imaginary service record as a matter of public record and in the hopes of receiving public accolades and / or support is anathema.  This law should be upheld.

I think the only difficulty I have is when it comes to those dishonorable few who falsely claim combat injury, emotional distress or PTSD.  Meaning:  if a army payroll clerk in Des Moines (who has never served in a combat theatre) claims emotional trauma because he saw a fictitious buddy take an RPG...is there / should there be a way to formally discipline this kind of attention seeking behavior?

My understanding is that the Military itself can and will punish those in the Military who lie about these type of things. The law was aimed at civilians who, if citizens of the USA, are constitutionally not subject to military law and punishment.
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Offline mirth

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2012, 07:21:18 PM »
WTF, did the Supreme Court go completely insane today?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/us/justices-say-lying-about-military-honors-is-protected.html?hp

I'm normally a huge 1st Amendment advocate, but this is nuts.

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Offline bayonetbrant

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2012, 10:27:57 PM »
^^^  there is absolutely no way to legally justify that law under the Constitution.

I'm all for hammering guys with fraud charges if they use 'stolen valor' for personal gain.  And I'm all for merciless and extensive public shaming for 'tards who try to puff up their records.

But illegal?  Absolutely no way to justify it at all within the bounds of our Constitution.  I'm a 14-year veteran who's the son of a 30-year veteran, who was the son of a WWII veteran, and I couldn't find any way at all to support this law.
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Offline son_of_montfort

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2012, 10:30:42 PM »
Do note, there is already a short discussion of this in CE:

http://grogheads.com/forums/index.php?topic=2002.0

As I said there, I like the protection of Cocktail Party Puffery, given it is a trained skill for most academics.  ;D
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Offline Arctic Blast

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2012, 10:36:26 PM »

So now what?  There's gotta be some way to stop these douchebags from pulling this crap.

If there's any justice, I'd say a severe beating is the answer.

Offline bayonetbrant

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2012, 10:38:38 PM »
I merged 2 threads, so there might be some disjointedness between the messages.
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Offline Windigo

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2012, 07:21:47 AM »
I merged 2 threads, so there might be some disjointedness between the messages.

don't you have a PBEM game going on or something
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Offline mirth

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2012, 07:54:09 AM »
^^^  there is absolutely no way to legally justify that law under the Constitution.

I'm all for hammering guys with fraud charges if they use 'stolen valor' for personal gain.  And I'm all for merciless and extensive public shaming for 'tards who try to puff up their records.

But illegal?  Absolutely no way to justify it at all within the bounds of our Constitution.  I'm a 14-year veteran who's the son of a 30-year veteran, who was the son of a WWII veteran, and I couldn't find any way at all to support this law.

I fully agree with this portion of Judge Alito's dissenting opinion:

Quote
“By holding that the First Amendment nevertheless shields these lies,” Justice Alito wrote, “the court breaks sharply from a long line of cases recognizing that the right to free speech does not protect false factual statements that inflict real harm and serve no legitimate interest.”

The law was clearly written for false statements made about having been awarded military honors. I do not see that as protected speech, nor do I see it opening a pandora's box on other forms of legitimately protected speech.
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Offline bayonetbrant

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Re: (Merged Thread): Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2012, 07:58:20 AM »
^^ So I can't dress up in a Halloween costume and slap a bunch of ribbons on my chest?

Quote
the right to free speech does not protect false factual statements that inflict real harm and serve no legitimate interest.

And that is why fraud laws will cover "false factual statements that inflict real harm"

What pray tell should one do about a false factual statement that inflicts no harm but also does not serve a legitimate interest?
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