A few weeks ago, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the First Amendment allows people to wear unearned military honors. The case was based on a former Marine who wore unearned military medals and awards during a court appearance.
The country has attempted to protect the integrity of awards in the past. In 2006, the Stolen Valor Act was passed to make it a misdemeanor to falsely claim military accomplishments. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declared this law unconstitutional based on the First Amendment. In response to this, Congress passed a law in 2013 that makes it a crime to profit financially by lying about military service.
The First Amendment can be difficult. It guarantees free speech – even if the speech diminishes an honor, hurts someone or just seems plain wrong. Of course the Founders wisely recognized that it’s a really slippery slope for anyone to be able to regulate what can and cannot be said. I get that and support it. Nonetheless, it doesn’t make me feel any better about anyone diminishing the honor of those who have served.