Ninth Circuit struck down law against false claims of military honors

On August 17, 2010, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down a federal law criminalizing the act of falsely claiming to have received a medal from the US military. Xavier Alvarez was convicted under the Stolen Valor Act in 2007 after he announced at a public water district board meeting that he was a retired Marine and had received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Alvarez had never received the nation's highest military honor nor had he ever served in any military service. After a fellow board member alerted the FBI to Alvarez's false statements, he was charged under the act and agreed to plead guilty if he was allowed to appeal the conviction on First Amendment grounds. The Ninth Circuit held that the speech prohibited under the Stolen Valor Act did not fit within the narrow categories of false speech held to be beyond the First Amendment's "protective sweep."

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