Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional. The law made lying about earning a military award, such as the Medal of Honor, a criminal offense:
"Courageous military heroes earn awards like the Medal of Honor with their actions on the battlefield. Lying about military service is dishonorable and an insult to the brave men and women of our armed forces. Today's decision demonstrates the need for an accessible awards database so we can verify and honor our true American heroes."
Tester recently wrote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calling for the department to develop a comprehensive database for military awards like medals, citations, and ribbons. Tester told Panetta that better record keeping will prevent the improper awarding of service awards.
The Stolen Valor Act made it a federal crime to lie about receiving a military decoration or medal, punishable with up to a year in prison. The Supreme Court today upheld a lower court's ruling saying the law violated the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.
Tester is also backing bipartisan legislation that specifically makes it illegal for an individual to profit or benefit from lying about their military service or record. The measure was written specifically to address the lower court's concerns about Constitutionality.