James Mackler Reacts to Supreme Court Striking Down Military Medal Lying Law
Although overshadowed by the Affordable Care Act decision, the Supreme Court issued a very important First Amendment decision impacting veterans and active duty military veterans. In a 6-3 decision, the Court struck down the “Stolen Valor Act.” The Act made it a crime to falsely claim receipt of military awards regardless of whether the lie caused any harm or brought material gain. The majority concluded that the extremely broadly written law unduly infringed on protected free speech. The crux of the Court’s reasoning appears to be that, although the law had substantial justification, Congress could have crafted a more precise law that achieved the same goal. For example, the law could have required a showing of actual harm from the false statements or it could have created a searchable database to uncover fraud. In my view, this was the right decision. The men and women who earned the medals at the heart of this case were fighting to preserve the very constitutional rights addressed by the Court. It would be wrong for the Supreme Court to weaken those rights in a misguided attempt to protect our war heroes.