Stolen Valor and Freedom of Speech: An Analysis of How Federal Law Should Criminalize the Wearing of Unearned Military Awards

Author:Joshua J. Orewiler
Position:J.D., The University of Iowa College of Law, 2012
Pages:1811-1838
SUMMARY

Since 2006, when Congress amended the federal statute criminalizing the unauthorized wearing of military awards, prosecutions under this statute have increased. In response to these prosecutions, courts have interpreted the meaning of the statute, differing as to whether a person can wear an unearned military award without the intent to deceive others even when the government has not authorized... (see full summary)

 
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1811
Stolen Valor and Freedom of Speech: An
Analysis of How Federal Law Should
Criminalize the Wearing of Unearned
Military Awards
Joshua J. Orewiler
ABSTRACT: Since 2006, when Congress amended the federal statute criminalizing
the unauthorized wearing of military awards, prosecutions under this statute have
increased. In response to these prosecutions, courts have interpreted the meaning of the
statute, differing as to whether a person can wear an unearned military award
without the intent to deceive others even when the government has not authorized that
person to wear that military award. This Note concludes that the interpretation not
requiring persons to acquire authorization to wear unearned military awards without
the intent to deceive best fulfills the purpose of the statute.
I. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................... 1813
II. THE HISTORY OF PUNISHING THE MISUSE OF MILITARY AWARDS ........ 1815
A. EARLY USES OF MILITARY AWARDS IN THE UNITED STATES .............. 1815
B. STATUTORY CRIMINALIZATION OF THE UNAUTHORIZED WEARING
OF THE MEDAL OF HONOR .............................................................. 1816
C. RECENT AMENDMENTS TO 18 U.S.C. § 704 .................................... 1817
III. A BACKGROUND OF FREEDOM-OF-SPEECH LAW ................................... 1819
A. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONTENT-NEUTRAL AND CONTENT-
BASED RESTRICTIONS ON SPEECH .................................................... 1819
B. STATUTES THAT ARE UNCONSTITUTIONALLY OVERBROAD ............... 1820
C. STATUTES THAT GIVE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS DISCRETION TO
RESTRICT SPEECH .......................................................................... 1822
IV. THE DIFFERING COURT OPINIONS ON THE PROPER INTERPRETATION
OF 18 U.S.C. § 704(a) ......................................................................... 1823
J.D., The University of Iowa College of Law, 2012; B.S., Truman State University, 2009.
I would like to thank Professor Todd Pettys for his advice on this topic; the Student Writers and
Editors of the Iowa Law Review for their work on this Note; and my friends and family for their
support.
1812 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 97:1811
A. UNITED STATES V. MCGUINN ....................................................... 1823
B. UNITED STATES V. PERELMAN ...................................................... 1825
1. The Perelman District Court Case ........................................ 1825
2. The Perelman Ninth Circuit Case ......................................... 1827
C. PERELMANS FAILING CONSTITUTIONAL ARGUMENT AGAINST THE
NINTH CIRCUITS INTERPRETATION OF § 704(a) ............................. 1828
V. THE NINTH CIRCUIT PROVIDES THE BETTER INTERPRETATION .......... 1831
A. CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES OF THE MCGUINN COURTS
INTERPRETATION ........................................................................... 1832
1. Content-Based Regulation of Speech ................................. 1832
2. Unfettered Discretion To Regulate Speech ....................... 1833
B. THE PERELMAN COURTS INTERPRETATION BETTER SERVES THE
PURPOSE OF CRIMINALIZING THE WEARING OF UNAUTHORIZED
MILITARY AWARDS ......................................................................... 1835
VI. CONCLUSION ....................................................................................... 1838

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