Stolen Valor Act 2: No Lie - Page 2
Last month a federal appeals court in Denver heard arguments on whether Congress can make it illegal to falsely claim to be a military hero. Since its challenge in California resulted in Judge Kozinski’s ruling that the Stolen Valor law violated the First Amendment, prosecutors asked the 10th Circuit to uphold the law. That has prompted legal scholars to say they expect the law to eventually land before the SCOTUS.
You may recall that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Democrat who ran for the United States Senate last year, claimed to be Vietnam veteran when in fact he never served in Vietnam. Records showed he obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970. Blumenthal did serve in the Marine Corps Reserve, at home, instead. He has since refined his statements to serving “in the Vietnam era” and was sworn into the 112th Congress on January 5, 2011. Talk about doing community service.
“False speech is not subject to a blanket exemption from constitutional protection,” wrote Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (376 U.S. 254). In that 1964 case the Supreme Court held, “A State cannot, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, award damages to a public official for defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves ‘actual malice’ — that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was true or false.”
“A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation,” said the British born author Saki. That would seem to be at the core of the Kozinski ruling on the unconstitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. But just in case, the House has Stolen Valor 2 up its military uniform sleeve. No lie.