Federal Circuit Court Upholds 'Right to Lie'

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Even Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich faces a five-year sentence for lying to federal agents, a federal appeals court ruled there's no evidence that lying harms anybody.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled Tuesday that, in some cases, people have a "right to lie."

In an historic 2-1 ruling, the panel of three judges found the federal Stolen Valor Act to be unconstitutional. The Stolen Valor Act made it a crime to falsely claim to have won a military honor or decoration

The case involved Xavier Alvarez, an elected member of the California Water Board, who on several occasions in 2007 lied about receiving the nation's highest award, the Medal of Honor.

Judge Milan Smith, who also wrote for Judge Thomas Nelson, said the law went too far, even though many legal experts view deliberate false speech as unprotected by the Constitution.

"We have no doubt that society would be better off if Alvarez would stop spreading worthless, ridiculous, and offensive untruths," Smith wrote.

"But given our historical skepticism of permitting the government to police the line between truth and falsity, and between valuable speech and drivel, we presumptively protect all speech - including false statements - in order that clearly protected speech may flower in the shelter of the First Amendment," he said. 

Alvarez no longer sits on the water board.

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