Legion leader calls on Congress to pass a more narrowly written bill to stop fraudsters from making false claims of military service.
WASHINGTON (June 28, 2012) -- American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong is calling on Congress to pass a new version of the Stolen Valor Act, one that would stand up to constitutional scrutiny. The U.S.Supreme Court issued a “plurality” ruling Thursday morning, a 6-3 decision that protects those who lie about their military experiences,including those who falsely claim to have received combat wounds and medals, in order to advance their careers.
“While we are obviously saddened and aggrieved by the overall decision in this case, we felt good about the portions of the decision which suggest that a more narrowly tailored bill,which incorporates traditional fraud elements, would be upheld,” Wong said. “Since the vast bulk of the more notorious valor thieves engage in this to gain something of value as a result, they will not be able to claim legal immunity once a new bill is passed.”
The plurality opinion, announced by Justice AnthonyKennedy -- who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor -- reasoned that, with only narrow exceptions, content-based restrictions on speech face strict scrutiny, and are therefore almost always unconstitutional.
False statements of fact do not fall within one of these exceptions, and so the Stolen Valor Act can survive scrutiny only if it is narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest, the Court held. The majority concluded that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional because the government had not shown that such a statute is necessary to protect the integrity of the system of military honors – the interest the government had identified in support of the act.
Wong said a 2011 revision of the challenged law would pass the constitutionality
test. “Congress needs to do whatever it takes to pass H.R.1775, a 2011 rewrite
of the original Stolen Valor Act, which we believe the Supreme Court would
accept as constitutional. The justices did not say that the idea is wrong,
because the idea is not wrong. It’s just a matter of conforming to
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by AssociateJustice Elena Kagan, concurred separately, concluding that the Stolen ValorAct, in its current form, applies even in family, social, or other private contexts where lies will often cause little harm. Breyer and Kagan argued that the government could achieve its goals in a less burdensome way, and so determined that the Stolen Valor Act, as written, is unconstitutional. Their opinion leaves open the opportunity to revise the act, so that it would stand up if challenged in the nation’s highest court.
American Legion Baseball fans nationwide will have the opportunity to watch the 2012 Legion World Series games live in Shelby, N.C., Aug. 17-21. All 15 games will once again be streamed online on ESPN3.com.
The games will be shown online and on mobile devices to Internet customers with high-speed connections from affiliated service providers. Viewing ESPN3 is free and viewers will be able to go to www.legion.org to find a direct link to ESPN3. Once there, viewers need only to register in order to watch all the games.
ESPN3.com is a 24/7 online sports destination currently available in approximately 70 million homes, at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or cable-TV video subscription from an affiliated service provider. It’s also available to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel, via computers connected to on-campus and on-base networks.
In addition to the games, ESPN3 will cover many events associated with the upcoming World Series.
American Legion Baseball
Shelby, North Carolina
Game Date/Pairings Time
Friday - August 17
Game 1 Western vs. Central Plains 9 :30 a.m
Game 2 Northwest vs Great Lakes Doubleheader
Game 3 Northeast vs. Mid-South 5 pm
Game 4 Southeast vs. Mid-Atlantic Doubleheader
Saturday - August 18 Game 5 Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3 9 :30 a.m
Game 6 Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game 4 Doubleheader
Game 7 Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 3 5 pm
Game 8 Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 4 Doubleheader
Sunday - August 19 Game 9 Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7 1 pm
Game 10 Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8 5 pm
Game 11 Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 Doubleheader
Monday - August 20 Game 12 Winner Game 9 vs. Loser Game 11 5 pm
The 2012 American Legion Boys State programs have been under way for the past several weeks now, creating lifelong memories and friendships for thousands of young men. Many of those who experience the week-long event go on to serve our country as lawyers, politicians, news anchors and military servicemen. They too go on to share how the Boys State program left a lasting impression on their life by writing letters of gratitude, which was the case for Air Force Capt. Ryan Spodar.
Spodar, a 1997 American Legion Ohio Buckeye Boys State delegate and counselor for four years, wanted to wish the program staff another great year and express his gratefulness for the program’s existence. He did so by recently writing the following email to Buckeye Boys State Program Director Jerry White and Chief Counselor Grant Grace.
"Since I have spent the last 10 years of my life serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have a special perspective in seeing groups of people who have no concept of national identity or, sadly enough, even understanding the principles of democracy try and come together to form a peaceful nation free of cruelty and oppression. Being a direct witness to these attempts of nation building, I constantly remind myself of the work The American Legion does to prevent our nation from degenerating into the same state of languish.
"I want to make this exceedingly clear to you and your staff how important your work at BBS (Buckeye Boys State) means not only to me, but to the nation as a whole. A free and democratic state only exists so long as its citizens are educated and motivated enough to keep their government accountable to the citizens they serve. The work you all volunteer to do this year and in the future will educate the following generations of citizens as to how their government functions, how to keep them accountable, and how to replace them if they fail the people.
"My work here in the desert may catch a lot more attention in the news media, but be assured that your work is just as important as mine. You are working preventatively to secure a peaceful future where I am working retroactively to attempt a secure future. I believe it was General Patton who said something to the tune of, "a pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood." The work you do in BBS now will pay off in dividends later. Thank you all for your service then, your service now, and in the future."
God Bless America
Ryan Spodar, Capt. USAF
Meanwhile, as The American Legion Alabama Boys State program currently celebrates its 75th anniversary, 1968 delegate and former Alabama state representative Steve Flowers shared his insight on the program and his experience running for Boys State governor.
"The American Legion and The American Legion Auxiliary sponsor one of finest programs for high school students in Alabama. Boys State and Girls State is an event every June. Rising seniors in high schools all over the state are invited to these week-long leadership confabs, which are held at major universities for the top high school leaders throughout the state. It is a lesson in civics and firsthand politics for these future leaders. The students are taught about government by practical experience.
"During their week at Girls and Boys State, they build city, county and state governments, and then they run them. They form political parties and run for every office. They draft and pass mock legislation. They culminate their week by visiting the State Capitol and Statehouse and running state government.
"This program has been going strong for over 60 years and many of Alabama’s past and current state leaders have been participants of Boys and Girls State. I had the opportunity to be a Boys State participant 44 years ago this June. It was a magnificent experience. I developed lifetime friendships from Boys State.
"As a teenager I was already involved with politics and had been active in several high school political endeavors. My high school principal told me earlier in the school year that I would be chosen to attend Boys State so it gave me ample time to plan to run for state office. I decided to run for governor. As might be expected with aspiring young high school politicos from all over the state by the time that Boys State began in June there were 27 of us running for governor.
"My best state political buddy was a fellow from Auburn. He and I had been to numerous political leadership meetings together. We were both running for governor and as young politicians we were already cutting backroom deals. We were both presumptuous enough to assume that one of us, if not both, would be one of the top two vote getters and therefore be in the runoff. We agreed we would endorse the other in the runoff against any third interloper who might make the runoff against either of us. Much to our chagrin, neither one of us made the runoff. I finished third and he ran fifth."
Our NY State Boys State and Girls State are identical in nature to the above examples. And comments are always in praise of the program.