Federal Ruling: Wearing Unearned Military Medals Is Free Speech

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM)-- A federal appeals court ruled this week that wearing a military medal you didn't earn is protected under the First Amendment.

The 9th Circuit Court made the decision on Monday (Jan. 11). Local Vietnam veteran Pete Rathmell said he doesn't agree with the decision.

"It's not an accessory," Rathmell said. "I mean, a person who has that has honor, they've earned it."

Rathmell served in the Navy on submarines from 1966-1968. He has a National Defense service medal as well as a Republic of Vietnam service medal.

"For somebody to wear a medal that they haven't earned to me is disrespectful and cheapens the honor of the person who legitimately earned it," Rathmell said.

University of Arkansas law professor Danielle Weatherby said while the act is frowned upon, it isn't illegal.

"Lies are speech nonetheless," Weatherby said. "We, as a society, don't value one spoken word over another, and that's what the First Amendment is all about."

She said while the ruling doesn't apply to the state of Arkansas, the ruling could be looked at later if a similar situation were to happen in the Natural State as a guideline.

More information on California's ruling can be found here.

 

 

7 comments

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.