Supremes take up Stolen Valor Act

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Supremes take up Stolen Valor Act

By now most have seen this, unfortunately it came down (at least to me) after I had posted the thing yesterday about the perfidy of Mr. Lawless:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether Congress can make it a crime to lie about having earned a military decoration.

The case arose from the prosecution of Xavier Alvarez under a 2005 law, the Stolen Valor Act. Mr. Alvarez, an elected member of the board of directors of a water district in Southern California, described his background at a public meeting in 2007.

“I’m a retired Marine of 25 years,” he said. “I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy.”

That was all false, and Mr. Alvarez was charged with violating the law, which makes it a crime to falsely say that one has “been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States.” Mr. Alvarez argued that his remarks were protected by the First Amendment.

The trial judge rejected that defense, saying the First Amendment does not apply to statements the speaker knows to be false. The judge sentenced Mr. Alvarez to three years of probation.

A divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, reversed the ruling.

As a natural pessimist, I think we might lose, but not all hope is lost. Best case scenario is the court imputes a fraud element to the existing statute. The Courts have tossed the SVA on the basis that it covers people who are wearing the ribbons etc as some form of performance art (the Gunny Highway defense), or because they are confused (as if someone wouldn't know whether they have an MOH), or an innocent youth (although no 7 year old wearing grandpa's ribbons has ever been arrested under SVA.) But, the high court might impute a fraud element. In other words, its only a violation of the SVA if someone is wearing the ribbons, or making claims to engage in some sort of fraudulent enterprise, which to date has been every single one of them. Assuming the court tosses SVA though (maybe 7-2 or 6-3) I predict that Congress the next day passes the bill which slightly alters the SVA by statutorily adding in the fraud element. Every court case that I have read tossing SVA has mentioned that if that provision was in there, it would likely be Constitutional. Unfortunately it will be too late to punish guys like Alvarez, but at least it would punish future liars.

I still can't accept that lying about an easily verifiable fact, with the intent to deceive, should be covered under free speech. It's one thing to tell a whopper that is clearly a matter of opinion, as in most political speech, but whether one has or doesn't have a MOH, CIB, or is a member of the SEALS isn't exactly susceptible to various interpretations. One has them, or is one, or does not or is not. There's no middle ground that I see.

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False statements of fact are not protected speech. Among the types of speech prohibited by law are libel and slander, fraud, impersonating a peace officer, theft by deception, making false statements to peace officers, identity theft, etc. Other types of speech are prohibited because there is a compelling state interest requiring the prohibition, such as laws against inciting a riot, harassment by communication, terroristic threats, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, providing legal or medical advice without a license, etc. Since false factual statements are not protected at all, no compelling state interest need be shown. IMO, the 9th Circuit got it wrong, and SCOTUS will overturn unanimously.

I think Mr. Lawless stinks. I also have combat medals, none anywhere a Medal of Honor, and cannot abide by those who pretend to be heroes. But, we have to be careful where we draw the line on free speech. It may be a lie, and anyone lying on a job application can be fired. Shouldn't a politician who makes such "persuasive" false claims be fired

They should be fired and fined heavily!

I pray that the high court of this land take this individual and place him in front of real MOH winners. How dare this man make false statements about his service record.

The guy lied...but how did his lies cause direct harm to anyone? Some interesting points on the subject below:
(“In the context of governmental restriction of speech, it has long been established that the government cannot limit speech protected by the First Amendment without bearing the burden of showing that its restriction is justified.”).

Also, "The sad fact is, most people lie about some aspects of their lives from time to time," wrote Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. in a 2-to-1 decision. If the government were allowed to punish lies that cause no direct harm, "there would be no constitutional bar to criminalizing lying about one's height, weight, age or financial status on or Facebook, or falsely represent to one's mother that one does no smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, is a virgin, or has not exceeded the speed limit while driving on the freeway," Judge Smith wrote.

It is only ASSumed that his claim did not cause harm. If claim used present or past to get job or promotion...then someone( & their family) who did not get the job/ promotion was harmed by the claim. Could even ASSume that a life time of damage was done by the false claim .

One can only assume that your use of the capital "ASS" multiple times means you are aware that assumption is the mother of all F'ups....

This should be adjudicated by a military court. Let's just turn this guy loose at Camp Pendleton for a few days to see what happens.

we should turn this ass over to the men who realy earned the MOH and let them do what has to be done with him

This individual should be prosecuted under applicable law and pay the penalty so richly deserved!

What would you expect from another worthless So California politician?

assuming that it won't harm anyone... what a crock, but the harm to the real MOH personnel who received them by giving their life or body harm is a the real measure of valor and to misrepresent it and not going thru the hell to receive on has surely caused harm to what the metal is all about, this is a bunch of bull (^%%(, so can he be sued by the real HOA and be awarded damages, I didn't receive one after 20 yrs in the Navy and I wouldn't lie about it...

If there still remains such a thing as "shame" then that at least will suffice if the Sup. Court finds in his favor. Local hometown news media should cover this story periodically so that everyone in his hometown is aware of his lies and he will be "shamed." as will his family.

I've had the occasion to scrape some Xavier Alvarez from the soles of my shoes.

The question about Mr. Alvarez's public statement on the award of the CMOH is now before the highest court. Despite how any of us feel about it the law will be decided in months.

Is the photograph at the head of the article of Mr. Alvarez? In his public statement Alvarez said he was a US Marine. Was Alvarez ever in the service? Any Service? His statement before the court is a potential violation of one law; however, his picture may be evidence of another crime. In the picture he is wearing the uniform of an officer of the US Army. He is also wearing the Combat Infantrymen's Badge, the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Start. If he was in the Marines, or even the Army and is not retired and was not awarded those decorations/badges he also violated provisions of Title 18 and Title 10 United States Code. Anyone have the answer. He lied about the CMOH once, a PX hero is always a PX hero. I would bet there is a record of him trying to buy a MOH.

Title 18 U.S.C. Section 704 (a) provides in part: “Whoever knowingly wears … any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States … except when authorized under regulations … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”
Title 10 U.S.C. Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 45, Section 771 states: Except as otherwise provided by law, no person except a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, as the case may be, may wear –
(1) the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps; or
(2) a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps,

Actually they should be able to prosecute for fraud if he "in some way benefited from fraudulent misrepresentation" i.e he got a job because he was an injured/disabled veteran, or because he presented himself as a hero (MoH)

The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in the suit of U.S. v. Alvarez. The Act makes it a criminal offense to lie about getting military awards or about military service; a regulation that could breach First Amendment free speech rights. Article resource: Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments about Stolen Valor Act

What a useless buffon this Alverez is. As noted, the uniform he's photographed wearing is Captain, Army Special Forces festooned with ribbons for the Silver Star, Combat Inf. Badge, The Purple Heart, RVN Para Jump Badge, and a slew of campaign ribbons, and not (obviously) USMC. I mean, aside from being a liar, he either has a friend who runs an Army-Navy store or has kept one in business with his purchases, but not an MOH... On that point, there's a reason why the MOH can't be purchased (or sold) under Federal Law---that medal is most obviously an exception to all the rest....that is very much a part of this story--Is the law prohibiting the sale or purchase of an MOH unconstitutional? Anyone can buy all the bling they want (as witnessed by that shot of Generalissimo Alvarez) legally practically anywhere. Likewise I'm sure there must be hundreds of thousands of instances of individuals who have BS'd about their supposed military records for personal gain. That said,The Stolen Valor Act needs tweaking--it has to specify criminality.Can the law now require that no medal, ribbon or insignia from the US miltary be sold/purchased without proof that the buyer(collector) is entitled to possess them? Now, if that repugnant punk was actually wearing a spurious MOH....

The fraud element makes sense. If a person is merely a braggert - medals, sports trophies, fish, then it is probably protected speech.

But if they use it to gain a position, on a resume, in a campaign speech or ad to influence others, then it is fraud and that should be part of the SVA.

“I’m a retired Marine of 25 years,” he said. Then why is he wearing Class Blue of the U.S. Army along with US Special Forces Crest. and the Army CIB, along with Marine Jump Wings and Army Jump Wings.


Whatever is decided, beware of imposters. When challenged, they are unable to provide the signed certificate of authenticity, which should indicate an immediate 'stop' signal.

I have had the honor of knowing a couple of MOH winners. Colonel Howard (captain when I knew him) being one of them. To have their service sullied by such a person just really...irritates me. I would like to see the law be specific to decorations for valor!

Mr. Xavier Alverez what a disgraceful, disrespectful piece of dog excrement you are!!

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.