(1) The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law making it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other prized military awards, with justices branding the false claim “contemptible” but nonetheless protected by the First Amendment.
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 2006 law, known as the Stolen Valor Act. The law, enacted when the U.S. was at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, was aimed at people making phony claims of heroism in battle.
The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, ordered that the conviction be thrown out.
(2) The Supreme Court has turned down media companies' plea to lift a prohibition on owning both a newspaper and a television station in the same market.
The justices on Friday denied the companies' appeal without comment. The media outlets say the restrictions no longer make sense in the Internet era.
The appeal also sought to get rid of other ownership limits including how many local television stations one company can control.
(3) The Supreme Court on Monday turned away a plea to revisit its 2-year-old campaign finance decision in the Citizens United case and instead struck down a Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending.
The same five conservative justices in the Citizens United majority that freed corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts in federal elections joined Monday to reverse a Montana court ruling upholding the state's century-old law. The four liberal justices dissented.
"The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does," the court said in an unsigned opinion.
The Citizens United decision paved the way for unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions in elections for Congress and the president, as long as the dollars are independent of the campaigns they are intended to help. The decision, grounded in the freedom of speech, appeared to apply equally to state contests.
But Montana aggressively defended its 1912 law against a challenge from corporations seeking to be free of spending limits, and the state Supreme Court sided with the state. The state court said a history of corruption showed the need for the limits, even as Justice Anthony Kennedy declared in his Citizens United opinion that independent expenditures by corporations "do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption."
Charles Ware's Radio Weblog
- December 31
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