Law: The Stolen Valor Act, 2006. A crime to make false claims about receiving military medals and awards. The law banned "fraudulent claims surrounding the receipt of the Medal of Honor, the distinguished-service cross, the Navy cross, the Air Force cross, the Purple Heart, and other decorations and medals awarded by the President or the Armed Forces of the US" (Stolen Valor Act). According to the law, these fraudulent claims "damage the reputation and meaning of such decorations and medals." A person guilty of violating could receive a fine, imprisonment up to six months, or both.

Case: Abel Fields 39yo resident of CA. In 2011, attended a city meeting about public safety. He spoke publicly, explaining that his military experience gave him knowledge to speak with authority about these issues. He claimed that he had served for eight years and that he had received the Purple Heart. Each of Fields’s claims was false. He had never served in the military and had never received a medal. He was prosecuted and convicted under the Stolen Valor Act. Because he was found guilty, sentenced to pay a fine of $1,000.
History: Appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Argued that the Stolen Valor Act was unconstitutional, and his right to free speech had been violated. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in his favor. Government appealed the decision, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Opinion: The Stolen Valor Act applies only to pure speech. It does not consider whether this speech is damaging to others or profitable to the person that has lied. Instead, it imposes a criminal penalty of up to a year of imprisonment, plus a fine, simply for speaking or writing a false statement. Laws that prevent harmful false speech center on lies told about others. A lie that is told about another person can be difficult to reverse. It can permanently damage that person’s reputation and well-being. However, a lie told about oneself and one’s own accomplishments is easier to reverse through other speech. Indeed, in Mr. Fields’s case, an effective way to reverse Mr. Fields’s falsehoods is to simply point out his lie. The First Amendment empowers the public to use its own free speech in response to Mr. Fields. A law is unnecessary. The Stolen Valor Act is not only unnecessary, it also sets a dangerous precedent. If future acts follow the same principles, the government may forbid speech solely because it is a lie, even if that lie does not create damage. We agree that most intentionally false speech is not worthy of constitutional protection. We also agree that intentional and damaging lies can be made the subject of criminal law. However, we cannot adopt a rule as broad as the Stolen Valor Act without trampling on the fundamental right to freedom of speech.

Dissent: In its past decisions, the Supreme Court has reminded us that there are "categories of speech… fully outside the protection of the first amendment" (United States v. Stevens, 2010). The First Amendment has always permitted restrictions on speech. In Gertz v. Robert Welch, the Supreme Court opinion wrote that there is a "social interest in order and morality" in preventing false speech. Protecting false speech constitutionally may damage this order and morality. A false statement damages both the subject of the falsehood and the listener who hears the false statement. By constitutionally protecting these statements, we protect a person’s ability to create disorder. I believe the Act is constitutional as applied to Alvarez. It is not overly broad, and it does not set a dangerous precedent for future acts. Because the majority has rewritten established First Amendment law, I respectfully dissent.
Precedent: NY Times v. Sullivan (1963): The NY Times printed an ad that accused the Montgomery, AL, police depart of misdeeds. The ad had many factual errors. The police commissioner, L. B. Sullivan, sued the Times and writers of the ad. According to the court: The judgment in favor of Sullivan had to be overturned. The Times could not be convicted of libel (false statements in print). to convict, courts must prove that a person has acted with malice when making a false statement.


Texas v. Johnson (1989): Johnson was convicted of burning a flag, based on a TX law that made this action a crime. He appealed his conviction, and Supreme Court heard his case. According to the court: conviction had to be overturned. Texas’s law was unconstitutional. Governments cannot limit freedom of speech solely because the thing being said is offensive or disagreeable to others.

Assignment:
Write a 3-4-paragraph Supreme Court opinion, you are a Supreme Court justice.
Introduction: Review the facts and summarize previous decisions

Answer :

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