July 2, 2012
In United States v. Alvarez, the U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed in a vote of six to three that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. Alum Jonathan Libby (’96) represented Xavier Alvarez and argued the case before the United States Supreme Court in February.
The Stolen Valor Act criminalized false representations that one has “been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States, any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration, or medal, or any colorable imitation of such item.”
The Court found that the law was overly broad, and “While the Government’s interest in protecting the integrity of the Medal of Honor is beyond question, the First Amendment requires that there be a direct causal link between the restriction imposed and the injury to be prevented. Here, that link has not been shown.”
Libby is a deputy federal public defender at Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles who frequently argues before the Ninth Circuit. This was his first United States Supreme Court appearance.
Libby returned to CUNY Law in February to discuss the case with faculty members, with Moot Court, and with students in Professor Ruthann Robson’s First Amendment class.