On Monday, a federal appeals court overturned a veteran's "Stolen Valor" conviction, ruling that wearing unearned military medals was protected by the First Amendment.

Elven Joe Swisher of Idaho was convicted in 2007, a year after President Bush signed the Stolen Valor Act into law, making it a misdemeanor to falsely claim military accomplishments.  However, the Stolen Valor Act was deemed a violation of protected free speech and removed by the Supreme Court in 2012.  In its place, Congress passed a law making it illegal to financially benefit from false military claims, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2013.

Swisher was called as a witness during the 2005 trial of a man charged with attempting to hire Swisher to kill a federal judge.  During the trial, Swisher wore a Purple Heart and said that the defendant seemed impressed after Swisher talked about his accomplishments and kills during the Korean War.  Records showed that Swisher enlisted in the Marines after the Korean War, was discharged in 1957, and received no medals for his service.  Prosecutors in Swisher's trial presented photographs showing Swisher wearing a Silver Star, Navy and Marine Corps Ribbon, Purple Heart, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a Bronze "V."

A specially convened 11-judge panel returned its decision yesterday, upholding the ruling that the wearing of unearned military medals falls under the free speech protection of the U.S. Constitution.

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