On the last day of its term, June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which criminalized false claims of receiving a military decoration or medal, because it violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. Six justices agreed that the Act is unconstitutional, but there was no majority opinion.
Xavier Alvarez, for whom, as Justice Kennedy wrote, “lying was [a] habit,” was indicted under the Stolen Valor Act for claiming that he had received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Government brief of the case available here. Under the Stolen Valor Act, it is a crime for any person to falsely represent, verbally or in writing, that he or she had been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces. A person convicted under the Act is subject to a fine and/or up to six months imprisonment (or one year if the medal is the Medal of Honor). Alvarez pled guilty, reserving his right to appeal and contest the constitutionality of the Act.
On January 19, 2012, Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, on
behalf of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Federation of
Television and Radio Artists, Association of American Publishers, Inc., Comic Book Legal
Defense Fund, Entertainment Merchants Association, Freedom to Read Foundation, PEN
American Center, Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC, and Writers Guild of America, West, Inc.
Press Release available here.
The Act was held unconstitutional by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Summary of the case is here.