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SANTA FE — Early this month, we celebrated the many freedoms Americans enjoy. Some recent events have indicated those freedoms have some limitations – but not enough in some people’s minds.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this month that freedom of speech has fewer limitations than perhaps many Americans intended. In the case of Alvarez v. United States, brought under the 2005 Stolen Valor Act, the justices found that simply lying about one’s military awards is not a criminal act.
The court found that Xavier Alvarez is a habitual liar. He lied about having been a professional hockey player and he lied about receiving the Medal of Honor. But the court ruled that since his lies brought him nothing more than possibly a little esteem, they weren’t criminal.
The Stolen Valor Act is pretty sacred to many Americans. A candidate in the New Mexico GOP U.S. Senate primary was accused of violating it and subsequently withdrew his candidacy.
Justices voting in the 6-3 majority maintained that lying is a part of life. “White” lies are valuable to protect privacy, shield a person from prejudice, provide comfort to the sick or preserve a child’s innocence.
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