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Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Military

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Patters, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This is an interesting issue. My guess we all stand together ethically on this issue, but whether or not a law can regulate this kind of behavior is a valid question.

    Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act - ABC News

    Maj. David McCombs, a U.S. Marine, ... came to the Court to hear a case challenging the Stolen Valor Act, a law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving military awards.

    ...

    But some of high court justices struggled with what Justice Anthony Kennedy called the "slippery slope problem."

    Kennedy asked, for instance, about a lie concerning a college degree. Elena Kagan wondered about a law that could be passed to ban lies about extramarital affairs.

    Chief Justice John Roberts asked Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., "Where do you stop? I mean, there are many things that people know about themselves that are objectively verifiable where Congress would have an interest in protecting."
  2. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #24 Jersey

    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    I don't know....I don't see a problem with making some things "special." For instance, I think (although I don't know for sure) it's probably against the law to call yourself "Doctor" if you're not or to advertise your expertise as a lawyer if you're simply a legal-aide.

    I'd be fine with saying that anyone who says anything that's blatently untrue in a public setting can be held liable....I'd love to see any politician, of any political stripe, get prosecuted for some of the bald-faced lies they make on television during debates or in their commercials. Advertisers can't willfully mislead the public with false claims about their product, politicians shouldn't be allowed to, either.

    The military is especially sacred - to me, at least. Nothing frosts me more than hearing someone claim they participated in combat when they did not. It does such a grave misservice to those who did and to those who loved and lost those who did.

    I'm not sure how they'd enforce such a law - probably couldn't be done for a one-on-one situation like some guy trying to pick up some girl in a bar, but maybe it could work in a situation where someone is trying to gain votes or make money off of such a lie.
  3. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    But, Mrs. P, they have to apply some sort of constitutional standard, and the issue at hand is the first amendment. I think if you use lies to get a job or benefits, it's a different situation. I'm not sure it's illegal to call yourself doctor, but it is illegal to practice medicine if you're not a doctor. It's certainly illegal to get military benefits if you don't deserve them, but to make it illegal to call yourself a military veteran does create a slippery slope. The Supreme Court I think will have a hard time using the Constitution to carve out an exception for military service.
  4. patsfan13

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    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    The US placed a special value on citizens who risk their life defending the country, their military service is taken into account when it comes to employment with the Federal government and many states do this also. So the fact of having served honorable in the military is in an of itself has a value that recognized.

    This value is enhanced if one is decorated for valor in combat. If someone falsely claims they are a decorated veteran when they are in fact not that could be seen as fraud in many cases (even civilian employment for example.

    Reading the article the government's contention is that the law is written in a narrow fashion in terms of it's restrictions on first amendment rights.

    If someone claims to be a MD and gets a job as a result should they be liable for fraud? Should this law be applied only if one uses the false claim to say, get elected to office or gain advantage when obtaining a job (public or private sector)?

    Not sure I have a good answer to that.
  5. sdaniels7114

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    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    I'm not sure how I'd feel about adjusting the Constitution to address this; but I think adjusting it would be necessary. However, you never know with the moronic Roberts Court.

    Every time someone says 'Bush's time is over, its Obama's fault now' I laugh.
  6. Harry Boy

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    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    I killed Hitler.
    I had sex with Eva Von Braun then I killed her
    I can prove it.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  7. chicowalker

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    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    For me, I think this falls under the area of repugnant behavior that should be legal.

    I don't think it should be illegal for a person to lie to a new neighbor about one's military service and even decorations, or to lie about it in a bar where you're trying to pick up a girl.

    It's reprehensible, but I don't think it's criminal.

    When it would / should be a legitimate issue is when there are actual damages due to the lies -- if you lie when getting a job or speaking engagement, for ex, you should be liable if sued. (I'm not sure where criminal charges for fraud enter the picture, but I'd treat this sort of lie the same as any others.)
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  8. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #24 Jersey

    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    This suit is being brought by a guy who, while serving as a public official in California, introduced himself to an audience by saying, "I'm a retired Marine for 25 years. I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor."

    The guy had never even served in the military.

    He was found guilty of violating the Stolen Valor Act and was fined and put on probation.

    He is now challanging the legality of the law.

    I'd say that qualifies as fraud. Maybe it's a stretch, and I don't know if he used this supposed military service to get his public office, but he was certainly trying to keep his position by using it.

    There's a fine line between fraud and lying but, in the case of public trust and elected officials, I'd say that any time someone makes a claim to be something he/she is not, that's fraud.
  9. chicowalker

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    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    There are 2 things here -- the law and the case.

    I was speaking about the law.

    As for this case, the law doesn't need to exist if fraud would cover it, right?

    How did he get his position? If he was elected and during his campaign he made those claims, I'd think that should be fraudulent and he should be subject to recall or whatever mechanism exists where he's located or for his position. If he was appointed or hired, I think he should be fired if the appointment or hiring was based on these lies. and even if his position had nothing to do with the claims, if he made those claims in a role as a public official, I'd think he should be fired.

    The only grey area for me re. his case is if he made the claims outside his role as a public official. Even then, though, I'd think a reasonable case would be made that he had acted in a manner unbefitting somebody holding his position -- that would depend on what the existing guidelines for firing are, though. But if he could lose the job for, say, driving drunk, I'd think he could also lose it for these bogus claims.

    In the end, though, none of it needs to rely on a law making even claims made in private, by a private citizen, a criminal act. That goes too far for me.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  10. DarrylS

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    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    If this has to do with identify theft, there are laws covering this...

    However, if it is someone running for office, then it is our responsibility to find out about this person... and expose him as a fraud.

    Not much confidence that these types of laws solve much of anything...

    When you believe, "The US placed a special value on citizens who risk their life defending the country", then you open a can of worms.. does this include police, border patrol and the like??? All citizens have a special value, not just some... sounds like Animal Farm.
  11. Drewski

    Drewski Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    Darryl, I do not disagree with the all citizens have special value statement at all....however.

    Medal of Honor recipients are a special case (aside from what this law is or isnt). The fact that regardless of rank, a Medal of Honor recipient MUST be saluted by even the Joint Chiefs of Staff (4 or 5 star Generals) tells you that those who receive it are viewed a little more specially than anyone else, and in my opinion should be.

    EDIT - Just checked, it isnt a regulation that MOH recipients must be saluted by any military member, regardless of rank. It is however the tradition to salute the award.

    I stand corrected.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  12. DarrylS

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    Re: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Stolen Valor Act That Bars False Claims of Milit

    There is no minimization of anyone's service, just concerns that everytime there is an issue there is a need to pass a new law... that makes no sense to me. MOH winners deserve all the credit they can receive...

    Laws seldom provide a good answer, as usually the law of unintended consequenses sets in.

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