Why would people lie about military honors they never earned?
Perhaps they wish they had achieved more in their lives. Maybe they are looking for recognition and respect.
Or they could be trying to make a fast buck off their falsehoods of battlefield glory.
Whatever the reasons, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 that making false claims about ones military service is protected under freedom of speech.
That does not make it right. But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that the First Amendment protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace.
The case involves one Xavier Alvarez, a member of the California water board, who falsely claimed to have received the Medal of Honor. He was prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act, a 2005 federal law that punishes people for lying about medals or military service.
Some experts believe that a more narrowly written law might pass court scrutiny. Dissenting justices wrote that such lies about medals or service are undermining our countrys system of military honors and inflicting real harm on actual medal recipients and their families.
The American Legion, which backed the law, was disappointed by the decision. But Fang Wong, the Legions national commander, said the group felt good about portions of the decision which suggest that a more narrowly tailored bill which incorporates traditional fraud elements would be upheld.
False claims can generally be found out with a little research.