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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 16, 2016 12:49 PM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pennsylvania Stolen Valor Act
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce last session's Senate Bill 43 to enable the Commonwealth to protect the honor of Pennsylvania veterans by imposing penalties for those who falsely wear military awards and decorations.

My bill would prohibit a person from falsely representing oneself as having received a medal or decoration authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States. In order to be culpable, the person must have the intent to use the false representations to commit fraud, obtain employment or be appointed to public office. A person who violates the Act would be guilty of committing a third degree misdemeanor. Enhanced penalties will be available if a person falsely wears a Congressional Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star or Purple Heart.

Additionally, this bill will address the First Amendment concerns related to the federal Stolen Valor Act of 2005, ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2012. In U.S. v. Alvarez, the Court explained that "[w]here false claims are made to effect a fraud or secure moneys or other valuable considerations, say offers of employment, it is well established that the Government may restrict speech without affronting the First Amendment." 132 S. Ct. 2537, 2547 (U.S. 2012) (citing Virginia Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 771, 96 S. Ct. 1817, 48 L. Ed. 2d 346). Fraudulent speech generally falls outside the scope of the First Amendment. As such, my legislation would require the individual to intend to use such false representations in order to effect a fraud or obtain some material gain.

Previous co-sponsors of this legislation include Senators TEPLITZ, BREWSTER, FONTANA, WILEY, STACK, BLAKE, SCHWANK, COSTA, BOSCOLA, HUGHES, FOLMER, TARTAGLIONE, SMITH, FARNESE, STEFANO, RAFFERTY, BAKER, BROWNE, WAGNER and AUMENT. This bill unanimously passed in the Senate on April 15, 2015.

Please contact my office at 717-787-5970 should you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB42