Whether a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech.The Professor's view is laid out in the title of his opinion piece.
Lying about receiving a Medal of Honor? It’s shameful — but it shouldn’t be a crime.Here is the lede:
Xavier Alvarez will soon have something to brag about, assuming anyone believes him. On Wednesday, he will join the small number of citizens who have appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has secured this distinction, however, not by what he achieved in his life but what he falsely claimed to have achieved.I would think that the answer here would be obvious to all right-thinking (as in correct thinking) Americans. The issue isn't about lying about receiving the the Medal of Honor. The issue is about giving the Government one more tool with which to coerce Government-desired behavior. ["You 'know' it is for your own good."]
Alvarez, you see, is a liar. Upon that much, everyone agrees. What has perplexed judges is whether his lies are protected by the First Amendment.
If the US Congress can criminalize lying about the number of Air Medals I received, then they can criminalize just about anything. (And, frankly, I don't remember—I think it was 17, but what if it was just 16?)
Let us be clear here. If I falsely solicit money from the public, claiming I have Post Traumatic Stress problems, brought on by the events surrounding my MoH earning event, it s fraud. We already have a law for that, at the local level. We don't need another Federal law dealing with this.
If SCOTUS confirms this law, which I most sincerely hope it does not, we should each write to those thee people representing us in Congress and tell them to repeal this law before some Federal Prosecutor uses it in a manner never intended. That is part of what being a Federal Prosecutor involves—taking tools laying around and finding new uses for them. That is what the are paid to do. And, it is legal for them to lie to you, but it is not legal for you to lie to them.
Ask yourself, where would Civil Rights be today if the RICO Act had been passed in 1936?
Regards — Cliff