Three Valleys Municipal Water District Board Member Xavier Alvarez is in the news again. You may recall that Alvarez is facing federal criminal charges for falsely claiming to be a Medal of Honor winner.
Alvarez, who represents Pomona on the Three Valleys board, won election in November, 2006, in no small part because of his endorsement from Pomona Mayor Norma Torres, who was apparently more concerned with building a political machine manned by delusional fools than with getting qualified candidates elected.
A Daily Bulletin's article by Will Bigham yesterday indicated that Alvarez's crack legal team is pursuing a novel legal strategy. According to the article, Alvarez is not even trying to contest the fact that he lied about his Medal of Honor. Instead, he is claiming that the law under which he is being prosecuted, the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, is unconstitutional.
Alvarez's public defender has filed a motion to dismiss the charges because the right to lie is protected under the First Amendment. According to the Bulletin article:
In the Dec. 22 motion to dismiss, Alvarez's court-appointed public defender, Brianna J. Fuller, argues that claims such as Alvarez's are protected by the First Amendment.
"Falsehoods are not outside the realm of First Amendment protection, and therefore restrictions on false statements must be supported by a strong government interest and must be directly related to that interest," says the motion.
"The Court's scrutiny of the law should be especially demanding here, where the statement was made by an elected official, during a public meeting, on an issue of public concern: his qualifications for office.
"The Government's stated interest in this law, protecting the reputation of military decorations, is insufficient to survive this exacting scrutiny."
While elected officials everywhere, including Claremont, may be heartened by the prospect of a free pass on lies, they should wait until after the judge in the case rules on the motion. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig H. Missakian, who is prosecuting the case, has contested the motion, Bigham reported:
"It is only in the realm of ideas - unlike the case here which involves a readily verifiable misstatement of fact - that falsehoods garner any free speech protection," Missakian wrote.
"Moreover, even if the Court were to conclude that defendant's lie deserves a modicum of protection, the government's undeniable interest in protecting from dilution the significance of the nation's highest military distinction and the magnitude of the accomplishment of those who actually earned it clearly outweighs that interest."
Alvarez's motion is scheduled to be heard on January 14th.
News of the weird sure gets around.
LEFT: Three Valleys Board Member Xavier Alvarez (Pomona) prepares to make war on common sense. Alvarez, self-awarded winner of multiple fictional military decorations, dons imaginary uniform in defense of hypothetical honor.
Alvarez is currently on leave to the Planet Earth from his native Zoltar, a distant Class-M world in the constellation Orion.