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.