Saturday, August 21, 2010

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Overturns "Stolen Valor Act"

Nine times out of ten, any time a sentence starts out with the words "the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals", it is a very good bet that I am going to be extremely ticked at what follows. The following "decision" is just one more case in a long list of grievances that I have regarding the often unconstitutional and most widely overturned appeals court in the land.

In this case, on Tuesday 8/17/2010,  A three judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2 to1 decision overturned a federal law, the aptly named Stolen Valor Act, that makes it a crime to falsely claim to have received a medal from the United States armed forces as being unconstitutional.  Never mind that this law sailed through congress in late 2006 and even was unanimously approved in the Senate.  Never mind, as the lone dissenting judge noted, that the majority of the panel refused to follow clear Supreme Court precedent that false statements of fact are not entitled to First Amendment protection.
The particular case in question involves Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Calif., a water district board member who said at a public meeting in 2007 that he was a retired Marine who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration.   

Alvarez was indicted in 2007. He pleaded guilty on condition that he be allowed to appeal on First Amendment grounds. He was sentenced under the Stolen Valor Act to more than 400 hours of community service at a veterans hospital and fined $5,000.  This actually strikes me to have been a just sentence for this "gentleman".  Unfortunately the panel agreed with Alvarez that the law was a violation of his free-speech rights.

I have nothing but loathing and disrespect for the cowardly blowhards that would attribute such awards to themselves that they had not honestly received.  By claiming to be the recipient of such un-earned valor, these frauds do indeed steal the honor and valor of those that were justly awarded such medals; medals that are often times awarded posthumously to our heroes in uniform. 

This is not a case of 1st Amendment free-speech rights.  It is a demonstrable case of fraud and deception.  For once, congress got this one right when they passed this law.  As is typical, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not!  Hopefully, an appeal will be made to the Supreme Court of the United States so that this egregious ruling can be overturned, like so many other decisions coming out of the 9th Circus Court have been.  Our heroes deserve this respect, as does our Constitution!


free0352 said...

I'm pretty sure this is fraud, and that's a crime. Also, it's a violation of the Unfiorm Code of Military Justice to wear sn unauthorized award and so I guess we could always drag vets back to Army jail for it, as for civilians who never were even in it's a crime to impersonate a government offical right?

T. Paine said...

Free, your arguments sound logical for each particular case. Whether the military or civilian court systems would try someone for fraud etc. remains to be seen.

free0352 said...

Don't get me wrong this isn't the crime of the century, I think some community service time cleaning up at the VA and a fine is more than enough when you consider (the much deserved( humiliation.

By now if we have to go with fraud this dope could get real time, and that isn't apropriate for his crime. That's why we need this law... and it should be a crime to do what he did. Especially when the CMOH. Really, it isn't even about the servicemen... by claiming these awards this guy is using that for personal gain on false pretenses. That's not free speech, that's a just strait up fraud. He's ripping people off.

T. Paine said...

I absolutely agree with you on all accounts there, Free!