The Supreme Court today struck down a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving a military medal, ruling it violated constitutional free-speech rights, reports Reuters. On the same morning that it upheld President Obama’s health care law, the high court handed the Obama administration a setback over the 2006 federal “Stolen Valor Act.”
Administration attorneys had defended the military medal law as constitutional and said the government has a strong interest in protecting the integrity of awards to war heroes. Opponents said the law swept too broadly, suppressed speech and covered innocent bragging, satire, and even false statements that cause no harm such as those at issue in the case by a serial liar who held local political office in California. The military medal law targeted people who falsely claimed, verbally or in writing, that they received such an award. The case involved Xavier Alvarez, who was elected to a California water board. He introduced himself at a board meeting in 2007 and said he was a retired Marine who won the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. military decoration.