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Supreme Court will rule on Stolen Valor Act
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Supreme Court will rule on Stolen Valor Act

Justices will decide if lying about medals is a federal crime

  • The Purple Heart medal.
    Mouse NerdBot/FlickrThe Purple Heart medal.

The Supreme Court will rule on whether the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. The law makes lying about receiving a Medal of Honor, a Silver Star, Purple Heart or other military medal a federal crime, The Associated Press reported.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law last year, 2-1, claiming that it wasn’t government’s job to punish lies that cause no direct harm, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Supreme Court announced Monday it would hear the case.

According to Wired News, the appeals court said in its decision that, if it upheld the Stolen Valor Act, “then there would be no constitutional bar to criminalizing lying about one’s height, weight, age, or financial status on Match.com or Facebook, or falsely representing to one’s mother that one does not smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, is a virgin, or has not exceeded the speed limit while driving on the freeway.”

The Associated Press reported that the law has resulted in convictions in the past, and almost all of those have led to a sentencing involving community service.

Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Calif., pled guilty to lying about having a Medal of Honor at a public meeting; he did that so he could challenge the law's constitutionality in his appeal, the AP reported. He was fined $5,000 and ordered to do 400 hours of community service at a veterans' hospital.

The Obama administration says the law "serves a crucial purpose in safeguarding the military honors system,” the AP reported.

The court plans to hear the case of United States v. Alvarez in early 2012 and rule by summer, the L.A. Times reported.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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