Writer’s Picks: The Stolen Valor Act, Sarah Palin email hacker, and more


Here are some of last week’s highlights from our Daily Opinion Summaries writers.

US v. Strandhof, US Ct. App. 10th Cir., 1/27/12
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Stolen Valor Act (18 U.S.C. 704(b)) which makes it illegal to falsely claim to have received a military award or honor. The district court found that appellant’s false claims to a Purple Heart, Silver Star, and rank of Marine Corps captain were protected by the First Amendment, but the 10th Circuit relied on SCOTUS precedent to overturn that ruling.

Wipf v. Hutterville Hutterian Brethren, Inc., 2012 S.D. 4
In a ruling involving the separation of church and state, the Court refused to dissolve a corporation in a Hutterite community, holding that the underlying religious controversies over church leadership so pervaded the dissolution of the religious corporation that the dissolution required an unconstitutional entanglement in a religious dispute and was beyond a secular court’s jurisdiction.

Fowlkes v. Thomas, U.S. Ct. App 2nd Cir. (01/31/2012)
The Second Circuit, interpreting the 2009 No Social Security Benefits for Prisoners Act, Pub. L. No. 111-114, 123 Stat. 3029, denied retroactive supplemental social security benefits that plaintiff allegedly was owed. The law bars the SSA from making any payment to an incarcerated individual covered by the Act, regardless of when the underlying obligation to pay the individual arose.

United States v. Kernell, U.S. Ct. App. 6th Cir, 1/30/12.
In this case, the court upheld the conviction of the man accused of hacking Sarah Palin’s email account. He was charged with identity theft, but only convicted of obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. 1519. Section 1519, part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, prohibits knowing destruction or alteration of any record with intent to impede, obstruct, or influence investigation of any matter within the jurisdiction of any federal department or agency or in relation to or in contemplation of any such matter or case.