Supreme Court to Rule on Lying

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Xavier Alvarez has lied about playing for the Detroit Red Wings, being secretly married to a Mexican actress, getting wounded multiple times during combat as a Marine, and receiving the Medal of Honor. For many, this list of tall tales may seem laughable. However, under the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, his lies about his military record could land him in jail for a year. On Wednesday the Supreme Court is set to hear his case and determine whether or not Americans should be imprisoned for things they say rather than actions they commit.

Pam Sterner went back to school in her early 40s at Colorado State University. In a political science course, she wrote a paper "Stolen Valor" that grew out of her husband's frustrations over phony award claimants whose worst punishment was public embarrassment, and eventually led to the Stolen Valor Act of 2005.

Jonathan Turley is a legal scholar who says the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 poses First Amendment issues.


Pam Sterner and Jonathan Turley

Comments [4]

Beautifully stated, Charles.

And Dave-- it's spelled "stare decisis." If you're going to attempt to use legal latin expressions to advance a flawed argument, at least spell it right.

Jun. 29 2012 12:30 PM

Dave if you are going to spout off a bunch of legal jargon, you really ought to be able to put together a coherent paragraph on the subject. A little knowledge is apparently a very dangerous thing in your hands.

Citizens United didn't involve overruling any 70-year-old precedents; it involved the invalidation (based on Constitutional principles -- a 225-year-old precedent, if you are counting) of a portion of an eight-year old statute; the "McCain Feingold" Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. When that Act was passed in one of the narrowest votes in Senate history, Sen. Mitch McConnell stated in the floor debate; "You're looking at the Plaintiff [in a lawsuit to overturn the law on Constitutional grounds]."

Citizens United DID involve the specific overturning of Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990); the Court usually invokes great care in such reversals and did so in Citizens United, even asking for additional arguments on the possibility of such a reversal.

Don't kid yourself that the Supreme Court never reverses itself. Look at Lawrence v. Texas, in which the court reversed Bowers v. Hardwick (and 200 years of precedent before that) in the name of creating Constitutional rights of privacy for homosexuals. Stare decisis went out the window in that case.

The number of wrong-headed garbage views concerning Citizens United on public radio comments pages is really shocking. Public radio has really done a disgraceful job of educating its audience on what the majority opinion in Citizens United v. FEC really said and what it really means.

Feb. 22 2012 07:45 AM
Dave Berggren from Arlington MA

It is unfortunate, that the Supreme Court is deciding 'lying' since Judges Roberts and Alito were before the Senate when asked "Are you in favor of 'stari decisus'"? (sp. Latin, for let old rulings stand) Both replied "Yes".
Yet in the "Citzens United" case Judge Roberts asked the lawyers to look farther back 70-80 years and re-argue the case back.

Is this a violation of "Stari Decisus".... Is this allowed when in front of Senate Confirmation hearings.......
Just another "Interventionist Supreme Court ruling" ....
Lying is allowed when someone runs for office "the budget will become balanced..." Society seems to allow a lot of lying.

Feb. 22 2012 06:45 AM
Astrid afKlinteberg from Gloucester, MA

I found Ms. Sterner's presentation to utterly lack any justification for the Stolen Valor Act. Just because she's mad and wants somebody to "pay" for a lie, doesn't mean we should have a law. It seems like these acts come fast and furious as a way to show how much we LOVE OUR TROUPS! Why don't we show our love for them by supporting, yes this means MONEY, them when they get back. Especially, if they have been injured. The Stolen Valor Act is cheap charity, it's not justice.

Feb. 22 2012 06:37 AM

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