Impersonating a police officer not free speech: 4th Circuit

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog reports on a ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Virginia’s law against impersonating a police officer.

The blog notes that the dissent in the 2-1 panel ruling invoked this year’s U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Alvarez, which held that the Stolen Valor Act was unconstitutional because lying about military heroism could be protected speech. The panel majority said the Virginia case, involving a man falsely claiming to be a policeman to beat a traffic ticket, showed that “not all lies are protected,” as the blog put it.

Alvarez “in no way gives this court license to simply ignore the many legitimate applications that a statute such as [Virginia's] possesses,” the 4th Circuit panel wrote. “And it in no way permits us to ignore
the Court’s declaration in the very same opinion that government impersonation and identity theft statutes are very different from the Stolen Valor Act.”

Tags: , ,