The Supreme Court turned down a law on Thursday that would have made it a crime for an individual to lie about whether he or she had earned a military decoration. The 2006 Stolen Valor Act violates an individual's constitutional right to freedom of speech – regardless of the verisimilitude of those statements, the court ruled.
"The government could likely protect the integrity of the military awards system by creating a database of medal winners accessible and searchable on the Internet, as some private individuals have already done," wrote Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his opinion on nixing the Stolen Valor Act. "Were a database accessible through the Internet, it would be easy to verify and expose false claims."
According to the New York Times, the ruling may be referring to a man named Doug Sterner, who has already created his own custom database that logs military award citations. Sterner has been conducting database administration on his own for more than a decade now. The Defense Department has yet to create a definitive public source that provides this list.
The department's inaction is most likely due to federal privacy laws that prohibit it from publicly identifying information about award recipients – such as birth dates or Social Security numbers – which, essentially, make such a database effective. But, Sterner's is hosted on the popular website Militarytimes.com and is known as the Hall of Valor.
Sterner told the Times that for a few million dollars he could bring on a team of data entry workers to help administer a federal program and, within three years, be able to log every military valor award ever given out by the military.
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