By Michael P. Neufeld
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) will co-sponsors the revised Federal Stolen Valor Act
On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court struck down the original Stolen Valor Act of 2005, declaring the law was in violation of the First Amendment. The law made it a federal misdemeanor to represent oneself falsely as having received U.S. military decorations or medals. The nation’s highest court determined that simply lying about one’s military service and accomplishments qualifies as protected speech under the constitution.
The majority decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, indicated that the 2005 legislation, “seeks to control and suppress all false statements on this one subject in almost limitless times and settings without regard to whether the lie was made for the purpose of material gain.”
Justice Kennedy did officer some advice to Congress about the bill being rewritten “to achieve the governments objective in less burdensome ways.”
Under the 2005 legislation, signed by President George Bush, persons who violated the Stolen Valor Act faced fines and up to a year in jail.
The Stolen Valor Act of 2013, introduced by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nevada), was written to resolve the constitutional issues requiring a so-called “intent to defraud” provision – meaning the violator had the intention of obtaining money, property, and other tangible benefit as the result of a false claim.
CALIFORNIA STOLEN VALOR ACT
During his tenure in the California State Assembly, Cook authored California’s state Stolen Valor Act, which was signed into law. Cook’s state law included an “intent to defraud” provision and has not been challenged in court.
“This law is a continuation of the important work we did at the state level when I was Chairman of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee,” Cook’s media release stated.
“The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 is extremely important because it protects and honors veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made. When people make false claims of military rank and heroism, it does a tremendous disservice, not only to our vets, but to the public. I’m proud to be a co-sponsor,” Cook added.
Cook represents the 8th Congressional District that includes the mountain communities.