Law Against Faking Receipt of Military Medals is Unconstitutional

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by ToughOmbre, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Anyone else got a problem with this?

    I sure do!


    August 17, 2010

    PASADENA, Calif. – A three-year-old federal law that makes it a crime to falsely claim to have received a medal from the U.S. military is unconstitutional, an appeals court panel in California ruled Tuesday.

    The decision involves the case of Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Calif., a water district board member who said at a public meeting in 2007 that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration.

    Alvarez was indicted in 2007. He pleaded guilty on condition that he be allowed to appeal on First Amendment grounds. He was sentenced under the Stolen Valor Act to more than 400 hours of community service at a veterans hospital and fined $5,000.

    A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with him in a 2-1 decision Tuesday, agreeing that the law was a violation of his free-speech rights. The majority said there's no evidence that such lies harm anybody, and there's no compelling reason for the government to ban such lies.

    The dissenting justice insisted that the majority refused to follow clear Supreme Court precedent that false statements of fact are not entitled to First Amendment protection.

    The act revised and toughened a law that forbids anyone to wear a military medal that wasn't earned. The measure sailed through Congress in late 2006, receiving unanimous approval in the Senate.

    Dozens of people have been arrested under the law at a time when veterans coming home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being embraced as heroes. Many of the cases involve men who simply got caught living a lie without profiting from it. Almost all the impostors have been ordered to perform community service.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said it was deciding whether to appeal Tuesday's ruling.

    FOXNews.com - US appeals court panel: Law against faking receipt of military medals is unconstitutional

    TO
     
  2. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    I'm inclined to err on the side of allowing free speech wherever possible. As repugnant as Alvarez's behavior is, any unnecessary check is, in my view, more repugnant still.

    Besides, Alvarez was caught in his lie and faced public humiliation. It seems to me that the shame of being a proven liar more than offsets any twisted gain he might have gotten from claiming the medals.

    Moreover, this could lead down a very slippery slope. Admiral Jeremy Boorda's career was ruined because he was supposed to have worn a medal to which he wasn't entitled; at the time, he was publicly defended by, among others, former CNO Elmo Zumwalt. Boorda committed suicide rather than face the public shame. There has been subsequent questioning of the validity of the commission's conclusions.

    The last thing that I want to see is Congress getting involved in this.
     
  3. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    It's only an unnecessary check if absolutely nobody is flouting that law, ever.
    How was Alvarez caught if not by an 'unnecessary check'?

    I can only think of the serviceman/woman who's returned from a tour having lost a close friend, only to find some jackass prancing around bathing in someone else's glory pretending he was there. Maybe Congress ought to ask the veterans if it's causing any harm.

    I thought the rights and dignities of US veterans were covered by the Stolen Valor Act anyway
     
  4. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I have to go with diddyriddick and say that us pathetic and vile as this creature is, his speech is still covered by the First Amendment, and attempts to silence him are unconstitutional. If he has profited by it, let him be tried for fraud and convicted. Otherwise, let him be, and let the community shame and shun him. A lot of people claim to be what they are not, and embellish their own mundane life stories. However, they are subject only to scorn and ridicule, not criminal prosecution. The only difference here is that this guy claimed to be a soldier, and were we not in the middle of a number of protracted wars in the Middle East, no one would be raising that much of a fuss.
     
  5. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Wartime or not, THIS veteran has a serious issue with someone claiming to be, or claiming to have been a soldier when they were not.
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Ditto...

    This is not about free speech! In this case free speech does not apply! Lying about your service is a disrespect to all veterans and especially those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. As a veteran of Iraq myself, I can tell you this rubs me the wrong way. There is nothing unconstitutional about laws that help prevent people from dishonoring veterans and those that have served.

    That is what they are saying is unconstitutional.
     
  7. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    The First Amendment guards free speech, yes....but there is a line that has to be drawn. Free, unrestricted speech would give me the right to throw on a robe and go around claiming to be a judge, or a Congressman, or a firefighter. I'm not. That is what is generally (and morally...and ethically) called a lie. Free speech is about voicing your opinion without fear of reprisals. Free speech is what the idiots who picket veterans' funerals are practicing. They're voicing their opinions, at the funeral of one who gave his/her life to protect that very freedom, ironically. LYING, however, is on the other side of the line. I do not agree with what those morons do at the funerals, and will oppose them to my dying day, but I will still say that they have the right to do it. A liar I will never support. In this guy's particular case, it cheapens the valor and bravery and, in most cases, the ultimate sacrifice of those who have actually done something to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor, and spits on those who have served in any branch, at any time. As one who served, and earned my medals and ribbons and qualifications, I will never agree with this ruling. I personally think he got off light with only 400 hours of community service.
     
  8. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Nicely said RA. I wonder what the punishment for impersenating a judge would be.
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Very nicely said RA.
     
  10. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    #10 ccheese, Aug 19, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
    This crap actually started in Denver, CO several weeks ago. The person involved claimed to have received a
    Silver Star and a Purple Heart while serving in the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps said they never heard of the
    guy, and he was charged under The Stolen Valor Act. The judge in Denver said pretty much what the California
    Appeals court said, it's unconstitutional. BULLSH!T !! If you didn't earn it, you don't wear it or say you were
    awarded it, plain and simple.

    I do not think this MOH wannabe will be humiliated..... for some it rolls off their back like water off a duck's. I hope it goes
    all the way to the Supreme Court, but I am afraid of what they will say about it.

    I didn't serve in Iraq or Afghannistan, but I got my fill of Korea and Vietnam. Like the other vets, here, I'm quite upset over this.

    Charles
     
  11. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    The problem is that the SCOTUS doesn't seem to agree. The only allowed exceptions to the First Amendment ever cited by the Court are:

    1. Defamation-You can't publicly and falsely impugn another's reputation
    2. Causing Panic-You can't cry fire in a public theater because it threatens public order
    3. "Fighting Words"-Those that by their very nature cause a breakdown of the peace
    4. Incitement to Crime-Should be obvious
    5. Sedition-Ditto
    6. Obsenity-Ditto again
    7. Speech which violates the "establishment of religion" clause of the Constitution.

    Wearing a uniform or medal to which one is not entitled doesn't qualify for any of these exceptions. Significantly, even more conservative courts have upheld these criteria.

    Again, as troubling as the reprehensible behavior is, the alternative is more troubling. The way to stop this is to show these ugly lies for what they are. This particular ass pretended to be something he wasn't; He was caught and showed to be something he was-a liar.



    First Amendment
     
  12. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    That one covers it, surely?
     
  13. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    Whose reputation did he directly attack?
     
  14. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    The reputation of military personnel who have experienced combat first hand?

    The suppression of fear beforehand and the experience gained after an enagement (assuming survival) serve to forge a reputation, both as an individual soldier and as a unit, otherwise such troops would not be regarded as seasoned troops and would not be so highly regarded; to publicly emulate such courage, professionalism and reputation where no grounds for such claims exists, must surely count as an attack on that reputation.

    Where does say anything in your precis about direct attack anyway?
     
  15. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Yet its illegal to impersonate an officer of the law? How is that any different than impersonating a member of the military?
     
  16. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    You could make the argument that he attacked, demeaned and cheapened every soldier, sailor, marine, airmen who was awarded medals for valor, bravery merit, etc.

    When lies, in my opinoin, attack the reputatation/valor/bravery of our military, it's not the same as some politician lying about whether he was an eagle scout.

    Long story short....freedom of speech is not absolute.

    TO
     
  17. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    I also wanted to make a statement about the 9th circuit court, but then I remembered our NO POLITICS RULE! :)

    TO
     
  18. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    To me it's just outright fraud.
     
  19. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Claiming that you have "earned" a medal, any medal...let alone the nation's highest award, is in all actuality a theft.

    It is stealing from those true recipients, the merit of award earned by sacrifice and suffering. It is stealing the honor of those to whom the honor was awarded postumously, after they made the ultimate sacrifice for thier country.

    The very ideal of Freedom of Speech is a rare one, and one that should NOT be taken for granted, especially because of the very fact that there are a great number of men and women who were awarded those very medals in the line of duty preserving that very right.

    There is no excuse or argument for anyone who falsely claims to be a recipient of any medal. Period.
     
  20. jamierd

    jamierd Member

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    as a veteran myself who lost friends in Iraq and bosnia i find it absolutely disgusting that anyone should pretend to recieve any decoration or even just pretend to have been in the military
     
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