Stolen Valor Act

Lost in all of the excitement surrounding the health care ruling has been any meaningful discussion of the landmark First Amendment case handed down by the Supreme Court yesterday. Today, my brother can walk up to a microphone and falsely claim that he won four Purple Hearts and a Medal of Honor for his courage and valor in Afghanistan. Last week, had he made a similar false claim, my brother would have needed legal counsel and likely was headed for a short stint in federal prison. How did we get from there to here?

In 2005, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Stolen Valor Act (don’t they have a knack for naming things in Washington?), which made it a crime to falsely claim receipt of a military honor. The penalty was even worse if that false claim involved the Congressional Medal of Honor. The justification behind the law is self-evident: lies about receipt of military honors devalue, and therefore inflict harm, on actual recipients of the Medal of Honor and the general public. Lying is usually wrong, but it’s always wrong when you’re claiming reward of a medal you did not receive.

Read the rest at Politically Inclined.

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