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House approves new Stolen Valor bill

Sep. 13, 2012 - 03:22PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 13, 2012 - 03:22PM  |  
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The House moved Thursday to criminalize profiting by falsely claiming to have received a military medal for serving in combat.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2012 passed by a vote of 410-3, and now goes to the Senate.

Coming after the Supreme Court struck down a more sweeping law in a ruling that said lying is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment, the revised measure gets around the issue of free speech by targeting fraudulent representation of military service for profit.

The legislation would apply to specific awards, and would apply to anyone who lies about their receipt of such awards with the intent of obtaining money, property or some other tangible benefit.

Covered under the bill would be the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart. Also covered would be campaign badges, including the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Combat Action Badge, the Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Ribbon and Combat Action Medal.

Those who profit from lying about receiving such awards could face up to one year imprisonment and a $10,000 fine under the bill.

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., a Navy veteran, the bill passed by the House is similar to a measure introduced by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass. A similar bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., takes a slightly different approach but also bases the federal crime on benefiting from the lie, and not the lie itself.

Heck's original bill also would have made it a federal crime to claim to have been a member of a special operations unit. That provision was removed.

The three House members who voted against the bill were Republicans Justin Amash of Michigan and Ron Paul of Texas, and Democrat George Miller of California.

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