Supreme Court to hear case about Pomona man who lied about Medal of Honor

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From left to right, the Army, Navy/Marine Corps/Coast Guard, and Air Force medals.

Is lying considered protected freedom of speech? The U.S. Supreme Court will consider that question during oral arguments Wednesday in the case of a Pomona man who lied about receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The case involves Xavier Alvarez, a water board member, who stood up at a meeting of the Three Valleys Water District in Claremont to introduce himself.

He identified himself as "a retired Marine of 25 years" who was "awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor." His lawyers say Alvarez told “a bunch of whoppers.” But lying about the Congressional Medal of Honor violates federal law — the 2006 Stolen Valor Act.

Alvarez was given probation, community service and a $5,000 fine. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Stolen Valor Act, calling it too broad to be enforced without violating the constitution. But another federal appeals court upheld the law, saying “utterances criminalized by the Act” are not covered by the First Amendment.

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