The focus today is solely on Obama's healthcare law that the Supreme Court upheld. However, there was another opinion handed down today - in the shadow of the healthcare decision - that evokes an equally guttural and emotional response...but that makes perfect constitutional sense.
The lies were horrific and unthinkable. It's maddening. Xavier Alvarez openly claimed to have served in the military, claimed to have been a retired marine of 25 years, and to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1987. All were lies told for no other reason than to make himself look better at his local water board meeting.
Alvarez was indicted and convicted for violating the Stolen Valor Act. In principle every American would agree with the Act - to punish those (like Alvarez) who lie about military service, especially falsely receiving military decorations or medals. Alvarez argued the Act violates the First Amendment. Today the Supreme Court agreed, and it makes sense once the emotion is removed from the decision making process.
The opinion absolutely "rejects the notion that false speech should be in a general category that is presumptively unprotected." The Court notes that "[t]he Nation well knows that one of the costs of the First Amendment is that it protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace." In this case, the government simply did not have an "actually necessary" and compelling enough interest in restricting the content based speech.
Alvarez's speech is, unquestionably, the speech we detest. However, as the US Supreme Court noted "[f]undamental constitutional principles require that laws enacted to honor the brave must be consistent with the percepts of the Constitution for which they fought." The Act simply cannot stand up under constitutional scrutiny.
The Court of public opinion has unanimously judged and convicted Alvarez, and there will be no appeal. He will be forever stained with his scarlet lies. Thankfully, though, "[t]here is nothing that charlatans like Xavier Alvarez can do to stain the medal winner's honor."