Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Judge rules Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional

Jul. 16, 2010 - 06:58PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 16, 2010 - 06:58PM  |  
  • Filed Under

DENVER — A law that makes it illegal to lie about being a war hero is unconstitutional because it violates free speech, a federal judge ruled Friday as he dismissed a case against a Colorado man who claimed he received two military medals.

  • Please enable JavaScript for your browser in order to use airforcetimes.com.com.
Want to read more?
Current Subscribers
Access to Air Force Times Prime is free for current Air Force Times subscribers.
Log in
Haven't registered online?
Activate Account
New Subscribers
Start your subscription to Air Force Times Prime for as little as 59¢ a week!
Subscribe

DENVER — A law that makes it illegal to lie about being a war hero is unconstitutional because it violates free speech, a federal judge ruled Friday as he dismissed a case against a Colorado man who claimed he received two military medals.

Rick Glen Strandlof claimed he was an ex-Marine who was wounded in Iraq and received the Purple Heart and Silver Star, but the military had no record he ever served. He was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have won a military medal.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn dismissed the case and said the law is unconstitutional, ruling the government did not show it has a compelling reason to restrict that type of statement.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Denver said prosecutors are reviewing the decision and haven't decided whether to appeal. The spokesman said that decision would be made by the U.S. Justice Department in Washington and prosecutors in Denver.

Strandlof's lawyer didn't immediately return a call.

The law has also been challenged in California and a case now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Denver attorney Christopher P. Beall, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said the Stolen Valor Act is fatally flawed because it doesn't require prosecutors to show anyone was harmed or defamed by the lie.

"The government position was that any speech that's false is not protected by the First Amendment. That proposition is very dangerous," Beall said.

"It puts the government in a much more powerful position to prosecute people for speaking out on things they believe to be true but turn out not to be true," he said.

Beall said the ACLU was not defending the actions Strandlof is accused of, but took issue with the principle behind the law.

AMVETS leaders on Monday said they disagreed with the decision, and they called for an appeal.

"The veterans' community has demonstrated time and again the actual harm Stolen Valor does to our nation's veterans and the way these false claims can impact public perception of our nation's heroes," AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin said.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Air Force Times

This Week's Air Force Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook