Washington • People who falsely claim they have received a military medal in order to obtain money or government benefits could face up to a year in jail under legislation that easily passed the House Monday.
The Stolen Valor Act, sponsored by Nevada Republican Joe Heck, is a second attempt by the House to revive a law on fraudulent claims to medals that was struck down by the Supreme Court in June last year. The legislation is identical to a measure that passed the House overwhelmingly last September but saw no Senate action before the last session of Congress ended. The vote Monday was 390-3.
The Supreme Court, in invalidating the Stolen Valor Act of 2006, ruled that while making false statements about receiving a military medal might be contemptible, such lies were protected by First Amendment free speech rights. The case involved a former California politician who lied about being a decorated military veteran. It has long been a crime to wear, manufacture or sell military declarations or medals without proper authorization.