Veteranclaims’s Blog

July 19, 2010

Federal Judge Rules Stolen Valor Act is Fascially Unconsitutional

Blackburn’s decision only set precedent in the District of Colorado, and further prosecution of the law isn’t likely to happen here unless a higher court strikes down his ruling.

Full Article at: Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional, federal judge rules
By Felisa Cardona
The Denver Post
Posted: 07/17/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

A federal judge in Denver has ruled that the Stolen Valor Act is “facially unconstitutional” because it violates free speech, and he dismissed the criminal case against Rick Strandlof, a man who lied about being an Iraq war veteran.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn issued his decision Friday and rejected the prosecution’s argument that lying about having military medals dilutes their meaning and significance.

“This wholly unsubstantiated assertion is, frankly, shocking and, indeed, unintentionally insulting to the profound sacrifices of military personnel the Stolen Valor Act purports to honor,” Blackburn wrote. “To suggest that the battlefield heroism of our servicemen and women is motivated in any way, let alone in a compelling way, by considerations of whether a medal may be awarded simply defies my comprehension.”

The Stolen Valor Act prohibits people from falsely claiming they have been awarded military decorations and medals. The act, signed into law in 2006, carries a punishment ranging from fines to six months in prison.

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat from Manassa, introduced the legislation in 2005.

“This is an issue of fraud, plain and simple,” Salazar wrote in an e-mail Friday. “The individuals who violate this law are those who knowingly portray themselves as pillars of the community for personal and monetary gain. The Stolen Valor Act has been upheld by other courts and I am confident this decision will be overturned on appeal.”

Blackburn’s decision only set precedent in the District of Colorado, and further prosecution of the law isn’t likely to happen here unless a higher court strikes down his ruling.

Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the Colorado U.S. attorney, said the Department of Justice is reviewing the ruling to determine whether an appeal should be filed.”

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