U.S. Court: Wearing unearned military medals is free speech

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SAN FRANCISCO – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that wearing military medals that you have not earned is part of free speech.

The ruling came as a specially-convened 11-judge panel of judges overturned the stolen valor act conviction of Elven Joe Swisher of Idaho.

Swisher served in the Marines. He was convicted in 2007 for violating the Stolen Valor Act. He wore a Purple Heart he hadn’t earned while testifying during a criminal court case.

The Stolen Valor Act was signed into law in 2006 by George W. Bush. It made it a misdemeanor to falsely claim military accomplishments. The U.S. Supreme Court struck it down in 2012 as a violation of free speech.

After that, Congress passed a new law making it a crime to profit financially by lying about military service. President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2013.

Monday, the specially-convened panel of 11 judges found that wearing the military medals conveys a message, which is protected by the First Amendment.

Read more about the case.