Eight Years Ago Today: Alvarez v. United States

| June 28, 2020

The Ukiah Daily Journal has an article by attorney Frank Zotter Jr. where he reflects on the Supreme Court ruling that came out exactly 8 years ago today.

Judicial Follies: Lying like a rug

June 28, 2020

On the first page of its website, the U.S. Supreme Court’s calendar marks in yellow the dates when new decisions will be released. And as the end of a term rolls around, the biggest cases are usually released on one of those “yellow-letter” dates, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

And so, eight years ago, on June 28, 2012, the witching hour rolled around, as everyone frantically hit “refresh” on the court’s website to get a copy of the Obamacare decision. Moments passed. And then — something changed!

And . . . AND? Oh. It was Alvarez v. United States, not the health care decision — which ultimately wouldn’t be posted for another 15 minutes.

Alvarez was one of two Supreme Court opinions released the last day of the 2011-2012 term, deeply overshadowed by that other decision. While the health care case was a landmark (a “split decision,” striking down the Medicaid expansion, but saving the core of the law), Alvarez — mostly forgotten now — was actually the more interesting to read.

Alvarez began on July 23, 2007, shortly after Xavier Alvarez won a seat on the Three Valley Water District Board in Los Angeles County, California. At a meeting that night, Alvarez introduced himself by saying: “I’m a retired marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy. I’m still around.”

Alvarez’ statement must have raised someone’s suspicions, because eventually, as explained by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, “with the exception of ‘I’m still around,’ his self-introduction was nothing but a series of bizarre lies.”

Alvarez had never won the Medal of Honor. He had never been a marine. He had never served in any branch of the Armed Forces.


Surprisingly, his appeal did not focus on just how, exactly, someone can be sentenced to precisely 416 hours of community service (why not 400? Why not 410? Or 425?). Instead, he actually challenged the Stolen Valor Act under the First Amendment. And first the Ninth Circuit and then, on that June morning eight years ago, the Supreme Court agreed with him. While finding Alvarez’ lies “contemptible,” Justice Kennedy concluded that, as “pure speech” and not intended, e.g., to defraud anyone, his conduct was protected by the First Amendment.

And so, while his neighbors might thereafter have crossed the street to avoid him, Alvarez at least clearly showed that he went into the right profession — as a politician. Heck, based on subsequent events, he might just have a shot at the presidency.

Though it’s doubtful even Alvarez could top the current record-holder by telling more than 20,000 lies in fewer than four years.

Needless to say, this ruling emboldened many people.  Certainly made our job a bit more difficult over the last eight years.


Category: Stolen Valor, Stolen Valor Act

Comments (19)

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  1. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Is that his upper lip, or is he giving head to a big push broom?

    • Deckie says:

      Kinda like The Joker, only he knows how to make a broom handle disappear.

      Possibly from both directions.

  2. Claw says:

    Jan Spann’s “Dustoff” pilot./s

  3. Hack.Stone says:

    Did anyone ever both to ask him if was a retired Marine, why was he wearing an Army uniform?

  4. 5th/77th FA says:

    Wasn’t Saggy Maggie DeSantis his nurse? Or was she on the chopper with him when it went down? Oh, no…wait…she was his physical therapist, showed him how to do push ups.

    Was the lawer trying to get a dig in on ORANGE MAN BAD with the 20K lies remark? Not saying all lawers will lie, but have met many that were very creatively sketchy/stretchy with the truth.

    This is no lie here tho…A certain lawer, wanna be pile/CPO navy seal (sic) it is still maintaining his social distancing at a minus 6 feet AGL. And he’s dead, Jim!

    • SFC D says:

      Him and Maggie were bumpin’ uglies in Viet of the Nam. No, wait, that couldn’t have happened…

  5. AW1Ed says:

    Ron Jeremy (in deep kimchi himself: USA Today Link) called, wants his mustache back.

  6. Friend says:

    Giggling at minus 6ft..

  7. Green Thumb says:

    Phildo’s hero.

    All-Points Logistics would be proud!

  8. MarineDad61 says:

    Worse, the female US Marine veteran
    who confronted him,
    then reported him,
    was FIRED.


  9. rgr769 says:

    So, in the pic above that is faker Alavarez, who never served a single day in the military. And he is wearing a Special Forces officer’s uniform with more fruit salad and badges than someone who served thirty years on active duty. Well, as they say, go big or go home. I like how he is sporting the Bullwinkle badge along with the Pathfinder badge. Guess, he couldn’t find any Halo or Scuba badges online. Plus, he ran out of room for a marksmanship badge with six to ten ladders.

  10. rgr769 says:

    The fellow who wrote the article, Zotter, never served in the military, and spent his career in gov’t service in the county counsel’s office and teaching in Mendocino, CA. Likely now semi-retired, he works as “of counsel” for a joint powers legal outfit that advises educational institutions on how to avoid discrimination claims, etc. So, he is likely a lifelong prog. Not surprising that he is infected with TDS.

  11. Slow Joe says:

    Wow. The ending of that article was amazing. 20,000 lies in less than 4 years?

    I knew Obama lied a lot, but I never knew he lied 20,000 times just in his first 4 years.

    I wonder what his total is. No doubt close to 40,000 lies.

    • atlanticcoast63 says:

      …Just 20k lies over the space of four years works out to 13.69 and some decimal places per day. So it’s doable, but you gotta work at it to keep from repeating yourself.

  12. SgtM says:

    I am being moderated

    • AW1Ed says:

      From the TAH FNG FAQ tab:

      Your first comment will be moderated here – it’s not an attempt to stifle debate, it just keeps the spammers at bay. So if this is your first time here, please be patient. If you change your screen name or email address, it might happen again. Please use an email address that you actually check. Your email does not appear when you post, it is our primary means of contacting you if we have a need to do so. If we attempt to contact you and you do not respond in a reasonable period of time…expect to be banned.

      Same if your IP changes.

  13. Skippy says:

    Time flys
    But these clowns never stop