And i think it’s a good decision., even though i suspect that the Supreme Court might end up overturning it.
We’ve discussed this law on these boards before, of course, and i maintained on those occasions that, while lying about military service and honors is a rather repugnant act that is worthy of contempt and ridicule, it should not be subject to legal sanctions unless it is done in order to make a material gain through fraud or deception.
It seems that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agrees, as they’ve just declared the law unconstitutional in a 2-1 decision. In their ruling, they presented a similar argument to the one i have made above, saying:
They also specifically noted that the defendant in the case, Xavier Alvarez, had not done any harm with his false claims, as those claims were made during some offhand remarks at the beginning of a Water Board meeting. The defendant has also, in the past:
The court found that the government had not shown a compelling need to restrict claims about military honors, and it also noted that the motivation to honor the troops could be satisfied in ways other than restricting freedom of expression.
This last factor is, i think, one of the things that most perplexed me about the people who argued in support of these laws. Many of these supporters argued that allowing people to boast of medals they never earned devalues the service and the sacrifice of the real soldiers. I never found this very compelling; my respect for those who fight is in no way diminished by the presence of a few lying douchebags. The fact that some blowhard can claim to have won medals when he was never in the armed forces is in no way a reflection on those who do serve.
I think a judge in Denver said it best last month, when he dismissed charges in a Stolen Valor case, and called the Act unconstitutional: