Lying About Military Honors Ruled as Free Speech

Health care wasn’t the only decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday. The high court also ruled as unconstitutional a law that made falsifying claims about one’s military decorations and service a crime.

Known as the “Stolen Valor Act” – it was passed in 2005 and Xavier Alvarez was charged under the law in 2007 when he lied about being a Medal of Honor recipient when serving as a member of a California water board. Howard Altman with the Tampa Tribune reports:

The Stolen Valor law is fatally flawed, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

“Statutes suppressing or restricting speech must be judged by the sometimes inconvenient principles of the First Amendment,” Kennedy wrote.

Some lawmakers are already vowing to find another way to deter individuals from lying about military service and honors according to a report in the LA Times.

An Open Letter to Westboro Baptist Church

Arlington National Cemetery. Photo courtesy Defense.gov

There is a time and place. Fellow blogger Harold’s Woodcrafting suggests military funeral protestors find a better time and different place to demonstrate. Harold wrote the following open letter to picketers with Westboro Baptist Church:

First, I will congratulate you on the Supreme Court decision. It is a slippery slope when American’s rights start to be taken away. Where will it end when it starts?

You have kept the right of free speech and places free speech can be used.

Now it is time to use those freedoms wisely. Why not go to Washington D.C.? It is after all our government and its policies you are protesting isn’t it? If you want governmental change use government centers for your protest, not military funerals.

Those who have died and those in mourning are individuals just like you. They are not the government whose policies you do not like.

Why do you have the desire to picket funerals of our country’s military? They volunteered to serve our country and to protect the freedoms we have. They were then sent by our government, which is their boss, without a choice, into harms way and paid the ultimate sacrifice with their life.

Shouldn’t those mourning the loss of a loved one, get to lay them to rest with the respect and dignity deserved? Don’t they need love and compassion and our sympathies?

I ask what Jesus would do? He came to seek those who were lost with love and compassion. In what you do where is the love and compassion of Jesus? Do your voices sound loving? Are your signs compassionate? Do your faces show the love of Jesus? For without love you are nothing but a clanging cymbal.

Jesus loved ALL and showed no partiality. He went to the sinners and was associated with them. He did not condone their sin, but still loved the sinners. He forgave their sin and He told them to sin no more. This He did with love.

Yes, Jesus had righteous anger. That was reserved for those taking advantage of the down-trodden and in the wrong place, the temple of worship. Also it was for those who thought they were better than others and were self-righteous. This is not the case with your actions. I and others see no love, only anger and hate. Jesus is not being seen through you.

It is not a sin to serve in our military. It is not a sin to die while serving in our military. Our military personnel should be held in high esteem for their desire to serve our country, and when told, to go into harms way. There is no greater sacrifice than laying your life down for another. That is what each one of those who die in service to our country, do for each of us. They gave up their rights to serve and their families are affected also.

When it is time to mourn their death and remember their service, it should be done with honor and pride, and yet the deserved somberness, with no acrimony. It is what Jesus would do.

We must use our freedoms wisely and appropriately. Protesting at a funeral is not appropriate and it definitely shows a lack of wisdom, love and discernment.

With Jesus love,

A sinner saved by Grace,

Harold

The following is a PBS segment featuring the father of a Marine who sued the Westboro Baptist Church for protesting at his son’s funeral:

Supreme Court Splits on Rulings Involving the Military

In a majority ruling, the land’s highest court said that religious picketers are within their rights to protest at military funerals. Below is a news alert from this morning courtesy of the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount attention-getting, anti-gay protests outside military funerals.

The court voted 8-1 Wednesday in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son’s funeral. For the full story click here.

But on the flip side, just yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the military. Nina Totenberg from National Public Radio reports on two different rulings where the justices sided with military personnel in a job discrimination case and the other involved a veteran who was denied VA benefits due to a late appeals filing.

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