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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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The court got one right

Uploaded: Jul 4, 2012
As we celebrate our nation's independence today, I have been reflecting on one of the less publicized Supreme Court decision during a momentous week in Washington D.C.
The court found Obamacare constitutional through Chief Justice John Roberts' creative thinking as well as declaring three provisions of Arizona's immigration law unconstitutional.
The third ruling hinged on what determines free speech under the First Amendment. The court, by a 6-3 vote that included liberal and conservative justices, upheld the liberal-dominated Ninth Circuit Court decision that ruled the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional.
The act made it a crime to falsely claim to have earned military honors and was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2006. The Supreme Court case stemmed from a blatant lie told by a water district board member in Southern California who claimed to have a Medal of Honor.
Certainly, the actions of this clown were insulting or worse to decorated members of the United States Armed Services. The issue with this law that the court majority opinion centered on was whether the government should be in the business of determining truth or falsehood.
It's tempting to say YES—PLEASE—let's hold all of those politicians responsible for their speech on the campaign trail or from the Rose Garden. Fortunately, the framers of our constitution and the Bill of Rights understood the dangers of such an approach for citizens as well as the politicians. The government or the legal system doesn't belong adjudicating these matters as criminal cases.
Because veterans and those currently serving are now so respected (a welcome change from the Viet Nam days) and appropriately honored, Congress could not avoid the temptation to establish a special version of crime.
It's way too similar to the so-called "hate crimes" that proscribe special treatment for violations against sub-groups of society that are different than those given for people deemed non-special. These provide prosecutors with tools they should not need or use—if a crime has been committed, it should not matter the race or gender of the victim.
As the Declaration of Independence reads, "All men are created equal" and thus should be treated that way under the law.
This case called out veterans and service members to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. Their sacrifices help preserve the liberties we should all treasure, but that should not create a difference class of people. They rightfully deserve and should receive all of the benefits that the government promises them—something that the Veteran's Administration has been coming up way short in providing.
The court majority got this one right.

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