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Supreme Court Will Hear Free Speech Dispute over Law Banning Lies About Military Medals

Posted Oct 17, 2011 10:56 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Corrected: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a federal law banning lies about earning military medals violates the First Amendment.

The justices will consider the case of Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Calif., a water district official who falsely said at a public meeting that he was a retired Marine who had received the Medal of Honor, report SCOTUSblog and the Associated Press. Alvarez pleaded guilty to a violation of the Stolen Valor Act, but reserved the right to appeal the constitutional issue.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned the law in a 2-1 decision. The panel referred to the U.S. Supreme Court’s First Amendment decision in U.S. v. Stevens that struck down a law intended to ban the sale of crush videos.

SCOTUSblog posted the petition for certiorari (PDF) in the case, United States v. Alvarez.

Updated at 4:47 to correct word usage. As a commenter pointed out, military medals are earned, not won.

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