BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is calling for passage of a bill that he said would punish those who seek to benefit by lying about receiving the Medal of Honor and other top military honors.
Brown is pushing the bill after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the original version of the 2006 Stolen Valor Act. That law — enacted when the U.S. was at war in Afghanistan and Iraq — was aimed at people making phony claims of heroism.
The justices called such false claims of military heroism “contemptible,” but said they were protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.
The government had defended the law as necessary to punish impostors and protect the integrity of military medals.
Brown is hoping to ease those constitutional concerns by narrowing the focus of the bill to those who seek to profit in some way from their misrepresentations.
That profit could be either financial or in some other material way — such as an award, job, honor or anything else of value.
The language in the bill targets an individual who, “with intent to obtain anything of value, knowingly makes a misrepresentation regarding his or her military service.”
The Republican lawmaker said that while false claims of military honors may be protected under the First Amendment, it’s still “cowardly and wrong.”
“Con artists who claim for themselves distinctions and awards they don’t deserve should be held accountable,” Brown said in a new radio ad released Tuesday. “That’s why I am working on a new law that will punish military liars and cheats in a way that satisfies the court’s concerns.”
In its decision striking down the law, the court voted 6-3 in favor of Xavier Alvarez, a former local elected official in California who falsely said he was a decorated war veteran and had pleaded guilty to violating the law.
A spokeswoman for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who is challenging Brown, said she also supports the bill, noting that Warren has three brothers who have served in the military.
Brown has served more than three decades in the Army National Guard.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.