On Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the First Amendment protects an individuals right to wear unearned military honors.
The ruling comes on an appeal of the 2007 conviction of Elven Joe Swisher of Idaho. He was found guilty of the 2006 Stolen Valor act, making it a misdemeanor to falsely claim military accomplishments.
The original offense by Swisher happened when investigators looked into his military records following testimony he gave against a man, David Roland Hinkson, accused of soliciting him to kill a federal judge.
While on the witness stand, Swisher was seen wearing a Purple Heart as he told jurors that Hinkson offered him $10,000 to kill the judge overseeing his tax evasion case based on the number of people he supposedly killed while in the military.
After review of his record, it turns out Swisher joined the Marines a year after the Korean War ended and never received any medals, never mind being wounded in the line of duty.
The 2006 law was eventually struck down and replaced by another one in 2013 that made it illegal to profit off lying about military service.
From Popular Military:
SAN FRANCISCO — tossed out a veteran’s conviction for wearing military medals he didn’t earn, saying it was a form of free speech protected by the Constitution.
A specially convened 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the First Amendment allows people to wear unearned military honors.
Elven Joe Swisher of Idaho was convicted in 2007 of violating the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a misdemeanor to falsely claim military accomplishments. President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2006, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down in 2012 as a violation of free speech protections.
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