United States v. Alvarez

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: October 17, 2011
  • Case #: 11-210
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 617 F.3d 1198 (9th Cir. 2010)
  • Full Text Opinion

(Whether the Stolen Valor Act is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.)

Respondent was convicted of making a false representation of having earned a military award, in violation of the Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. § 704(b), which makes it a crime to falsely represent that you have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.

Respondent appealed his judgment of conviction and the Ninth Circuit reversed holding that the Act is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit explained that the speech did not fit into a previously defined category of unprotected false speech, and struck down the law because it was not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest. The Ninth Circuit further explained that speech is protected under the First Amendment regardless of its truth or falsity and that in situations in which lying has been found proscribable, additional elements beyond just knowing falsity are required.

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