Thursday, June 28, 2012

The "Right To Publicly Lie" Day?

Taking a step back from the analytical particulars of the United States Supreme Court rulings reported today, I was struck by what seemed to be an unintentional yet inescapably common thread in those two substantive decisions.*

In those two cases for which substantive rulings were actually issued today, the one common thread seemed to be that it was a banner day for public liars . . . in one case involving demonstrable falsehoods uttered by certain members of the public regarding military honors they outrageously claimed to have received, and in the other, prevarications told by certain elected and appointed high public officials in our federal government.

Thus, in the two substantive rulings issued on the same day, one might claim that the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the "right" to very publicly lie about extremely important matters, all without any real consequence to those having uttering the falsehoods.

In the first case, UNITED STATES v. ALVAREZ, the Court let stand a decision of the U.S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which had declared an Act of Congress (the “Stolen Valor Act of 2005”) unconstitutional.  They thereby upheld that "right," pursuant to the scope of First Amendment protection of persons so inclined, to publicly lie without fear of possible criminal sanction, about supposed valorous contributions they made to our nation and on behalf of their fellow soldiers during military service in time of war.  And, specifically, as was the case with Mr. Alvarez, such false claims included his claim to having received our highest official meritorious citation for valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

So now, in the absence of an enforceable statute, and presumably until one can be drawn with greater particularity, it will not matter how false someone's claims might be with respect to the actions proscribed by the statute, even where an individual making such claims may not have actually ever served in the military of our nation for even one moment of his or her life!

As a result, in the absence of additional proof of criminal fraud arising therefrom, those "stolen valor" liars will simply get away with it.

The Court also upheld the "right" of certain Members of Congress and the President,especially during passage, to repeatedly and publicly mislead to the American people about the source of constitutional authority for a key portion of legislation under consideration – the "Affordable Care Act," also known as "Obamacare," a lengthy federal statute which the Congress enacted two years ago, and which the President signed during the prior Democrat-controlled session of Congress.  The case, of course, was NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS ET AL. v. SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.

Though the President himself, and his top healthcare official, and one of the President's top financial appointees, together with numerous members of the majority (Democrat) party at the time, and even later, claimed that the source of Constitutionality for the "mandate" provision of that Act was the Commerce Clause, and repeatedly denied that it was a tax, the Court nevertheless narrowly upheld the constitutionality of that mandate only as an exercise of the taxing authority under the Constitution. A majority of the Court (the four dissenters plus Chief Justice Roberts, who also voted with the liberals to uphold the mandate as a tax) were clearly of the opinion that the mandate could not have withstood constitutional scrutiny as an exercise of federal power under the Commerce Clause.

So the upshot was that those public liars who insisted during passage that it was not a tax, got away with it too.  The Act, after all, was upheld in spite of the considerable level of deceit.

Public liars had themselves a very big day today.

* (The Writ of Certiorari in a third case -- FIRST AMERICAN FINANCIAL CORPORATION, SUC-
v. DENISE P. EDWARDS was "dismissed as improvidently granted," which might make some wonder a bit how it was originally granted.  But there was no substantive opinion issued.)


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