The Madeleine Brand Show

The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand

"Stolen Valor Act" heads to the Supreme Court

by The Madeleine Brand Show

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A military aide holds up the Medal of Honor as US President Barack Obama awards US Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer in Washington, DC. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

In 2007, Xavier Alvarez was a newly settled board member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Claremont, CA. “I’m a retired Marine of 25 years,” Xavier Alvarez said to his fellow board members, “I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy. I’m still around."

It sounds innocuous, but there was a problem. It was a lie.

Xavier Alvarez is one of the first people to be convicted under the Stolen Valor Act, a law that criminalizes falsely claiming military decoration. Those convicted can be imprisoned for up to six months, unless the lie is about the Medal of Honor, in which case imprisonment could be up to one year.

Today, Alvarez's lawyers will argue that he was protected under free speech in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

What do you think? Should people who lie about military honors be put in prison? Let us know in the comments below!


Dahlia Lithwick, writer for Slate on the courts and the law.

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