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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 23, 2010 / 13 Elul, 5770

A Federal Law Against Lying

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In 2005, Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., sponsored the Stolen Valor Act that made it a federal crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors from the military. Breaking the law could lead to a fine and a sentence of six months. Lying about being awarded the Medal of Honor, a Purple Heart or other top honors could carry a prison sentence of up to one year.

In 2006, the bill passed easily through the House and unanimously in the Senate. Last week, however, the Stolen Valor Act ran smack into the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals -- insert your favorite Ninth Circuit joke here.

A three-judge panel in San Francisco ruled that the law violates the First Amendment and is unconstitutional. Consider this tale the latest example of how impossible it is to get a simple law enacted, prosecuted and upheld in the American criminal justice system.

The beneficiary of the court's ruling: One Xavier Alvarez, the first known man to be charged and convicted for breaking the new law. In 2007, as a newly elected Three Valleys Municipal Water District Board member, Alvarez announced publicly, "I'm a retired Marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy. I'm still around."

As U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Milan D. Smith noted, Alvarez never served a day in his life in the military, never was awarded a medal and has a rich history of telling lies about himself -- also having claimed falsely to have played pro hockey, to have worked as a cop and to have been married secretly to a Mexican starlet.

Alvarez is now serving a five-year sentence in state prison for misappropriating public funds by signing up his ex-wife for health insurance benefits.

Before the state conviction, Alvarez pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Stolen Valor Act and was sentenced to community service and probation and a $5,000 fine. Unfortunately for the taxpayers, Alvarez retained the right to appeal the law. A spokesman for the California Central District U.S. Attorney explained that conditional plea agreements are not unusual for convictions with "novel legal issues."

The approach paid off. As Smith wrote, if the courts upheld the law, "then there would be no constitutional bar to criminalizing lying about one's height, weight, age or financial status on Match.com or Facebook, or falsely representing to one's mother that one does not smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, is a virgin, or has not exceeded the speed limit while driving on the freeway. The sad fact is, most people lie about some aspects of their lives from time to time."

It was of special concern to the court that the Stolen Valor Act imposes a criminal penalty "for the mere utterance or writing of what is, or may be perceived as, a false statement of fact." The law isn't limited, for example, to lies on job applications, but lies anywhere. For Americans wary of the government acting as thought police, Smith laid out a compelling argument. But in so doing, he essentially held that lying about yourself is a free-speech right.

Judge Jay Bybee wrote a spirited dissenting opinion in which he noted, "I can see no value in false, self-aggrandizing statements by public servants ... If the Stolen Valor Act 'chills' false autobiographical claims by public officials such as Alvarez, our public discourse will not be the worse for the loss."

"From a nonlegal perspective, I don't necessary disagree with that," Alvarez attorney Jonathan Libby told me. But as an attorney, Libby said he believes the new law "is beyond the Constitution."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley made a similar argument in a piece for USA Today. Turley didn't disagree with those who would call Alvarez and others "valor thieves" and "semper frauds." He wrote, "We can all agree that false claims of military honors are repugnant and worthy of social condemnation. These men deserve to be social pariahs, but there remains a serious question over whether they deserve to be criminal defendants."

I should point out that if Alvarez had lied about his military record for financial gain, then other laws would have taken care of him nicely.

And: Smith, Bybee and Judge Thomas Nelson were appointed by Republican presidents, so you could call this issue an honest, if spirited, disagreement inside the right.

As Libby noted, "The point of the case was whether Congress, consistent with the First Amendment, can pass a law determining what lies are criminal and what lies are not."

For his part, Bybee argued that knowingly false statements deserve no First Amendment protection. But in this complicated age, nothing is simple. Think about it. I don't think this lying, cheating poseur would have been caught if he hadn't won an election.

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© 2010, Creators Syndicate

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