fields case study.docx - In United States v Fields a highly anticipated First Amendment case with a quirky fact pattern the Court held in a vote of six

fields case study.docx - In United States v Fields a highly...

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In United States v. Fields, a highly anticipated First Amendment case with a quirky fact pattern, the Court held in a vote of six to three that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. Justice Kennedy announced the opinion for a plurality of the Court (he was joined by the Chief Justice aswell as Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor). Justices Breyer and Kagan concurred, suggesting that ifCongress re-enacted the law with additional limitations, it might be constitutional.The Stolen Valor Act, makes it a federal crime to lie about having received a military decoration or medal, punishable by up to a year in prison if the offense involved the military’s highest honors. In this case Abel Fields, recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Three Valley Water District in southern California, announced to his colleagues – for no apparent reason – that he had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and that he had been wounded during active duty as a United States Marine. In reality, Fields had never even served in the military. He was prosecuted and pled guilty to one count of violating the Stolen Valor Act, but reserved his right to challenge the constitutionality of the statute.The key issue is whether the First Amendment protects false statements of fact – made without any apparent intent to defraud or gain anything – and if so, what level of protection they deserve. On this question, the plurality, the concurrence, and the dissent all reached different results.

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