The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to throw out the Stolen Valor Act because it violates free speech. This is the law that penalizes those who claim falsely that they hold U.S. military decorations.
The appeal against the law came from a man named Xavier Alvarez, an elected official holding a water board post in California, according to the the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell University Law School. Alvarez claimed during a public meeting that he had been a Marine and had been awarded the Medal of Honor. This is the United State’s highest award for valor. He was never a Marine.
According to the institute’s summary Alvarez challenged the act in U.S. district court, but he received three years probation, community service and a fine anyway. However, the Ninth Circuit court reversed the conviction and held that the Stolen Valor Act is contrary to the free expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court set oral arguments for a week from today. Alvarez is being supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a host of organizations that are First Amendment advocates.