Federal Court Rules Wearing Unearned Military Medals Is Free Speech, Protected Under First Amendment

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court has tossed out a veteran’s conviction for wearing military medals he didn’t earn.

A specially convened 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that wearing unearned military honors is free speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Photo credit: Shutterstock
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Elven Joe Swisher of Idaho was convicted of violating the Stolen Valor Act. Investigators looked into his military claims after he testified at the 2005 trial of a man charged with soliciting the murder of a federal judge. Swisher wore a Purple Heart on the witness stand.

Prosecutors say Swisher enlisted in the Marine Corps a year after the Korean War ended but was never wounded in the line of duty.

Swisher’s attorney didn’t return a phone call Monday.