U.S. v. Alvarez
What's at Stake
Whether the government can make it a crime to intentionally lie about receiving a military honor, regardless of the circumstances in which the statement is made.
The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime to intentionally lie about receiving a military honor, whether the statement is made in public or private, whether it is a parody or a fraud, and whether or not anyone is injured as a result. The government’s defense of the statute rests on the proposition that false statements of fact have no value and no independent claim to protection under the First Amendment. The ACLU’s amicus brief challenges that broad assertion by pointing out, among other things, that the government’s theory would allow it to criminalize what a federal appeals court judge described as “the white lies, exaggerations and deceptions that are an integral part of human intercourse.”