Federal Court Dismisses Prosecution Under Stolen Valor Act

I have previously written about my view that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. Now a federal judge (a bit more important) has reached the same conclusion in the case of Rick Glen Strandlof.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn has dismissed the case against Strandlof who claimed he was an ex-Marine who was wounded in Iraq and was the recipient of a slew of medals. The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have won a military medal. The relevant language in 18 U.S.C. § 704(b) states that a person is committing a criminal offense by

falsely represent[] [oneself], verbally or in writing, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States, any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration, or medal, or any colorable imitation of such item . . .

Blackburn held that “In short, it appears to this court that the Act purports to criminalize pure speech on the basis of its content. A law that imposes a content-based restriction on pure speech generally is subjected to strict scrutiny and cannot stand unless it is narrowly tailed to serve a compelling government interest.” He further noted that while “the Act does not require that anyone be defrauded, misled, or otherwise harmed by the misrepresentation.” Accordingly, he dismissed the prosecution and that, my friends, is an act of genuine valor.

Strandlof was something of an embarrassment for Democratic leaders who regularly used him at campaign events.
Source: Democratic Underground

10 thoughts on “Federal Court Dismisses Prosecution Under Stolen Valor Act”

  1. “holy icons in the religion of Americanism.”

    Nice, Mike. Very nice. Mind if I use that sometime? I do so love a good turn of phrase.

  2. Good decision. Another victory for those of us who do not believe that military medals or flags or other symbols of patriotism should be accorded the status of holy icons in the religion of Americanism.

  3. If I may be annoying, the link “I have prevoiusly written” links to the Democratic Underground story not to Professor Turley’s previous writings.

  4. Actually I would be all in favor of more fundamentalists actually impersonating Christ instead of the horrid act they usually perform 🙂

    I am sympathetic to the goal of the legislation despite the over-reach. More needs to be done to expose these phony bastards. (BTW – that photo of Boy Blunder in his TANG uniform? He is wearing a medal his service record does not show he earned)

    Maybe an online database at least for the major awards, we could probably get some of the veterans groups to pay for it.

  5. Some Judges do, do the right thing. Regardless of how reprehensible one may find it. How many Fundamentalist could be arrested for impersonating Christ and his ways. So long as once is not fleeced under the main story, who is harmed/

  6. Empty gestures to patriotism need not be countenanced nor enforced by the courts as Judge Blackburn has shown. Chalk up one for the good guys.

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