A constitutional right to lie!

Witch_Doctor

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DENVER - A federal judge dismissed the criminal case against admitted veteran imposter Rick Strandlof, also known as Rick Duncan, and said the law that prohibits lying about military honors is unconstitutional.

The decision, issued Friday morning by US District Court Judge Robert Blackburn, ends the prosecution of Strandlof, who admitted to 9Wants to Know Investigator Jace Larson that he lied about receiving military decorations.

The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime to falsely represent such service honors.

Blackburn wrote in his opinion that the Act "is unconstitutional as a content-based restriction on First Amendment speech that is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest."

Strandlof did not serve in the military but he duped politicians, veterans and the news media into believing that he served several tours in Iraq and was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star.

Strandlof, who founded Colorado Veterans Alliance in 2007, faced five misdemeanor charges.

His anti-war views made him the darling of sympathetic advocacy groups and Democratic politicians.

Strandlof's attorney, and civil liberties groups that filed supporting briefs, argued successfully that Strandlof's lies were protected speech. Federal prosecutors disagreed.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Denver said the matter is being reviewed and a decision on an appeal will be made by the Department of Justice in Washington.

"I acknowledge that there is much irony, to put it gently, in concluding that the core values of our system of governance, which our military men and women serve to defend with their very lives, are here invoked to protect false claims," Blackburn wrote in his decision. "I have profound faith - a faith that appears to be questioned by the government here - that the reputation, honor, and dignity military decorations embody are not so tenuous or ephemeral as to be erased by the mere utterance of a false claim of entitlement."

In an exclusive interview with 9NEWS in 2009, Strandlof hedged, blaming his deceit on mental illness.

"People are alleging that some of the information on the [Colorado Veterans Alliance's] website was not true, some of the background info was not true and some assertions made in public were not true," Strandlof said at the time. "I guess it depends on how true you want them to be."

Strandlof's attorney, Bob Pepin, said he was pleased by the ruling but he respected the right of those opposed to it to speak out.

"They have an absolute right to feel that way," Pepin said. "That is illustrative of the point of this case... Everyone can make their own choices and think how they want."

Doug Sterner, a former Pueblo resident now living in Virginia, who runs a website devoted to exposing fake war heroes says it's ironic a law birthed in Colorado was overturned by a judge in Colorado.


Sterner and his wife, Pamla, who helped design the law, both said they're confident that the fight will end up in the United States Supreme Court.

"We believe that the Stolen Valor Act is constitutional and we will believe that it will be upheld in the end," Doug Sterner said.

Congressman John Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado and an early supporter of the Stolen Valor Act, was equally confident.

"This is an issue of fraud plain and simple. The individuals who violate this law are those who knowingly portray themselves as pillars of the community for personal and monetary gain," Salazar told 9Wants to Know. "I am confident this decision will be overturned on appeal."

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Graham

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Oct 30, 2007
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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

If it was illegal to lie there would be many, many more people in our jails.

But the Act, as written, will probably pass constitutional muster.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 amended the federal criminal code to expand the prohibition against wearing, manufacturing, or selling military decorations or medals without legal authorization and to prohibit purchasing, soliciting, mailing, shipping, importing, exporting, producing blank certificates of receipt for, advertising, or exchanging such decorations or medals without authorization.

Under the Act it is illegal for unauthorized persons to wear, buy, sell, barter, trade or manufacture "any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces."

It only prohibits falsely representing oneself as having been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces and any of the service medals or badges.

The 2005 revision increased penalties for violations if the offense involves a Distinguished Service Cross, an Air Force Cross, a Navy Cross, a silver star, or a Purple Heart.
 

Rhys

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Feb 28, 2008
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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

That judge Blackburn is a tool. This is the same one that was interfering with the wolf hunts this last year if I remember right.
 

Graham

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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Witch Doctor</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Can't lie to a Fed, but you can lie to a policeman. It is just cheeky anyway you cut it. </div></div>Good point.

Here it's a misdemeanor to lie to a housing inspector. So a guy can get "Scooter Libby'd" for misstating a material fact about a building restoration permit. The problem our city inspectors are now having is that only fools are agreeing to talk to them.
 

Bushmaster7

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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

Goes back to a far more ancient law code, the same one we can't display in America today : "You shall not bear false witness ..."
 

Graham

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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bushmaster7</div><div class="ubbcode-body">"You shall not bear false witness ..." </div></div>That's about perjury - giving false testimony against another. It's not the same thing.
 

match308

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Oct 2, 2005
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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

The Judge and the guilty accused both need to be skull f'ed.
 

Greg Langelius *

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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

Take heart, the end of this foolishness grows nearer by the hour.
 

sailronin

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Sep 11, 2005
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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

The judge is just afraid that if lying was outlawed every politico from President on down to the local town council would be in jail.....

I'm still looking for the downside to that but I guess the judge figured that would be a problem.
 

Greg Langelius *

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Re: A constitutional right to lie!

I think the root problem lies in surrendering all our discretion and permissiveness to others, i.e. courts, legislators, etc.

IMHO, there are matters which simply lie outside the purvue of goverment, and are the vested right and obligation of the individual. If this is not so, then the individual is powerless and totally redundant within our society. We may have already reached that point and forged beyond it. If one looks and says, "eenh!", it is already a fact.

Greg
 

427Cobra

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  • Nov 24, 2005
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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    Very Sad, our Country is doomed if honest people are belittled by lying no good worthless F$%ks like Rick Strandlof.
     

    Graham

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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    The crime everyone is talking about in this Thread isn't lying, it's theft.
     

    Cleaner

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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: sailronin</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The judge is just afraid that if lying was outlawed every politico from President on down to the local town council would be in jail.....
    </div></div>

    Who was it that said "Show me a politition and Ill show you a liar"?
     

    w1423

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    Dec 1, 2007
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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    What really hurts in the Stolen Valor Act is there are no exceptions for true collectors. I have over 235 american military uniforms in my collection from field uniforms to mess dress (Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, Marine Corp, Army Air Force, Army Air Service, Naval Flight Officers, Enlisted Pilots (Navy and Army).
    Some known owners with correct ribbons patches etc and some unknow ones fixed up for display with vintage ribbons patches etc. Along with a large mounted patch collection covering Army, Army AF, Marine Corp WWI & WWII, Vietnam units, Airborne Units (some WWII thru Vietnam SF), Special Forces Units (VN Era). (I grew up an army brat from birth to my 18th Birthday, my father spent 42 years in the Army of the United States from enlistee to Master Sgt, fought in two major battles (one being Iwo Jima attached ot 3rd Mar Div), he retired in 1968. I thought it was normal to move every 3 years.)

    I also had at one time a collection of medals (real ones, no issued to me, but bought for public dispaly with uniforms displayed). From the Medal of Honor to the Good Conduct Medal, campaign medals etc. With that Act, I destroyed my display of medals (medals included) since it would be illegal to display a lot ot them. It is sad that most American people have never seen a real Medal of Honor up close or held one (WWII issue Navy/MC), Navy Cross(WWII Black Widow type), Distinguished Service Cross (WWI or between wars), Legion of merit all three grades/types(1940's to 1960's types), etc up close to see how beautiful they are and what is on the reverse of the medal.

    I am very glade they passed the Stolen Valore Act, it was needed. But believe they could have put some exemptions in the law for military collectors who display these items. Now I don't display much anymore and have started to break down and destroy the collections that I don't feel comfortable selling. A very sad thing to do but necessary.
    Sorry for being so long.
     

    Graham

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    Oct 30, 2007
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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: RedRiverShooter</div><div class="ubbcode-body">With that Act, I destroyed my display of medals (medals included) since it would be illegal to display a lot ot them. </div></div>This is not a legal opinion, and I am not a collector, but after two minutes of research in the CFR's it would appear that anything you, as a dealer or collector, could legally do before passage of the Stolen Valor Act you can do now with the exception of printing blank citations or claiming to be a recipient of any of the awards if you did not earn them.

    The language “except when authorized under regulations” in subsection (a) refers to the authorization spelled out in the CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS, which I have included below. It says what medals a person can buy, sell, trade, collect; and this includes <span style="text-decoration: underline">all</span> medals and badges.

    The CFR specifically states in Section 507.12 (b) “Mere possession by a person of any of the articles prescribed in Sec. 507.8 of this part is authorized provided that such possession is not used to defraud or misrepresent the identification or status of the individuals concerned.”

    Have a look for yourself:

    [Code of Federal Regulations]
    [Title 32, Volume 3]
    [Revised as of July 1, 2003]
    From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
    [CITE: 32CFR507.8]
    TITLE 32--NATIONAL DEFENSE
    CHAPTER V--DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
    Subpart B--Manufacture and Sale of Decorations, Medals, Badges, and Insignia.
    Sec. 507.8 Articles authorized for manufacture and sale.
    (a) The articles listed in paragraphs (a) (1) through (10) of this section are authorized for manufacture and sale when made in accordance with approved specifications, purchase descriptions or drawings.
    (1) All authorized insignia (AR 670-1 and AFI 36-2903).
    (2) Appurtenances and devices for decorations, medals, and ribbons such as oak leaf clusters, service stars, arrowheads, V-devices, and clasps.
    (3) Combat, special skill, occupational and qualification badges and bars.
    (4) Identification badges.
    (5) Fourrageres and lanyards.
    (6) Lapel buttons.
    (7) Decorations, service medals, and ribbons, except for the Medal of Honor.
    (8) Replicas of decorations and service medals for grave markers. Replicas are to be at least twice the size prescribed for decorations and service medals.
    (9) Service ribbons for decorations, service medals, and unit awards.
    (10) Rosettes.
    (11) Army emblem and branch of service plaques.
    (b) Variations from the prescribed specifications for the items listed in paragraph (a) of this section are not permitted without prior approval, in writing, by TIOH.

    TITLE 32--NATIONAL DEFENSE
    CHAPTER V--DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
    Subpart B--Manufacture and Sale of Decorations, Medals, Badges, and Insignia.
    Sec. 507.9 Articles not authorized for manufacture or sale.
    The following articles are not authorized for manufacture and sale, except under contract with DSCP:
    (a) The Medal of Honor.
    (b) Service ribbon for the Medal of Honor.
    (c) Rosette for the Medal of Honor.
    (d) Service flags (prescribed in AR 840-10 or AFR 900-3).
    (e) Army seal.
    (f) Commercial articles for public sale that incorporate designs or likenesses of decorations, service medals, and service ribbons.
    (g) Commercial articles for public sale that incorporate designs or likenesses of designs of insignia listed in Sec. 507.8 of this part, except when authorized by the Service concerned.

     

    ArcticLight

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    Mar 27, 2003
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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    If it were illegal to lie our federal government would have to prosecute themselves...

    I am onboard with Switchblade on this one, this guy, AGAIN, needs his ass kicked, harder this time.
     

    Graham

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    Oct 30, 2007
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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: ArcticLight</div><div class="ubbcode-body">If it were illegal to lie our federal government would have to prosecute themselves...</div></div>And they do prosecute themselves, on a semi-regular basis, from Ollie North to Scooter Libby.

    Proving that one step up in privilege can be one step closer to the door.
     

    w1423

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    Dec 1, 2007
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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    Graham I appreciate the information very much and understand that possibly I could get by displaying such things. I do not have the financial abillity now to hire good legal assistance if the federal prosecutor decided they didn't have anything else to do that week. The items are now gone.
    One thing I did have was a great time meeting folks. I did have few WWI, a lot of WWII, Korean, and VietNam vets smile when they saw the uniforms, medals, patches and other items. That was a very good part plus meeting and speaking with some real great men and women. I just wish I had recorded every conversation I had, what an oral history that would have been.
    Bill
     

    Greg Langelius *

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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    ...and if the Good Lord wants his ass kicked, it shall be so....
     

    mgd45

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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    RedRiverShooter,

    Were you wearing these uniforms & walking around in them to display them, or did you put them up for display like a museum would do, so others could walk by them & view them? If you did the latter I can't imagine you would think for a moment that "some Federal Prosecutor" would waste his time & effort to prosecute you. I believe the only people being prosecuted under this statute are the ones trying to mislead, & fool others into thinking that they earned those medals.

    It also pains me to think that you would rather destroy some of your collection instead of donating them to military museums, so others could benefit from their historical value........
     

    w1423

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    Dec 1, 2007
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    Re: A constitutional right to lie!

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: mgd45</div><div class="ubbcode-body">RedRiverShooter,

    Were you wearing these uniforms & walking around in them to display them</div></div>

    Good lord no, most uniforms are mounted on coat or full mannequins for easy display. Only the actual hanging medals and ribbons were destroyed.
    Yes there are some federal prosecutors that will decide to make a case when they see something they want to push. Have seen that with my own eyes as I spent 30 years in LE and some case pushing made absolutely no sense. I think this is enough said about this as it does not have any thing to do with the original topic.