Hugh Pickens writes writes: ""I'm a retired Marine of 25 years," said Xavier Alvarez soon after he was elected to the board of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Claremont, CA. "Back in 1987, I was awarded the congressional Medal of Honor." Alvarez's lie about the Medal of Honor put him in violation of the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush that prohibits anyone from falsely claiming "to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States." Alvarez's "semper fraud" led to a criminal conviction, which was later thrown out by the US. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco which found that the Stolen Valor Act was an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. Now the US Supreme Court has agreed to to decide whether the Constitution's free speech clause protects people who falsely claim to have been awarded military medals. Jonathon Turley writes in the LA Times that however distasteful, with the Stolen Valor Act, Congress has made it possible to jail someone simply for telling a lie. "The Alvarez case could establish a legal principle that would allow Congress to criminalize virtually any fib, which could lead to a sweeping new form of regulating speech in the United States," writes Turley. "Giving the government such power would allow it to target "liars" who it portrays as endangering or dishonoring society.""
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