WASHINGTON – The House on Thursday approved a bill that seeks to punish people who lie about military service to gain benefits or a preferential job.
The Stolen Valor Act reworks a 2005 law that the U.S. Supreme Court in June declared an unconstitutional infringement of First Amendment free speech rights.
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the revised bill overcomes the constitutional hurdle while insuring that someone who falsely claims to have received military honors faces criminal penalties.
"Protecting the integrity and valor of American service members who have distinguished themselves in defense of this nation is critically important," Griffin said.
The bill was approved 410-3. Reps. Ron Paul, R-Texas, Justin Amash, R-Mich., and George Miller, D-Calif., opposed it.
Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., who authored the bill, said that it answers the Supreme Court free speech concerns by clearly defining that the objective is to target and punish those who misrepresent their alleged service with the intent of profiting personally or financially.
Under the bill, punishments against such individuals would include fines or imprisonment of no more than a year, or both.
The bill now goes to the Senate. It will likely not be taken up there until after the November elections.