Supreme Court to weigh in as free speech contends with stolen valor
Stars and Stripes
He wasn’t a retired Marine. He didn’t receive the Medal of Honor. No, Xavier Alvarez was a liar who got caught telling those fibs and others. He subsequently became one of the first people to be prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act.
The law, passed in 2005, makes it a crime for a person to fraudulently claim that he or she has received an award from the U.S. military.
After Alvarez was convicted in September 2009, he appealed saying the law was unconstitutional.
The appeals process has worked its way up to the Supreme Court, which must now decide if such convictions violate freedom of speech rights guaranteed under the Constitution or if they are legitimate.
But criminalizing the practice of telling lies can be dangerous, according to a Washington Post story, which points out that defining what is true and what is false can become a risky occupation for government officials.