WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law making it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other prized military awards, with justices branding the false claim contemptible but nonetheless protected by the First Amendment.
The court voted 6-3 in favor of Xavier Alvarez, a former local elected official in California who falsely said he was a decorated war veteran and had pleaded guilty to violating the 2006 law, known as the Stolen Valor Act. The law was aimed at people making phony claims of heroism in battle.
The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, ordered that the conviction be thrown out.
Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
The government had defended the law as necessary to punish impostors to protect the integrity of military medals.