Deputy Federal Public Defender Jonathan Libby Argues Before the Supreme Court in Alvarez v. U.S.

Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Press & Internal News

Jonathan Libby speaking to the press after Alvarez oral argument.

Today, Jonathan Libby, an attorney with Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California, argued before the United States Supreme Court in the federal appeal of our client, Xavier Alvarez.  The legal issue at question: The constitutionality of a federal law that makes lying about receiving military medals or honors a crime.

Mr. Libby argued that the First Amendment would suggest that Congress does not get to decide what we can and cannot say. Further, there needs to be harm associated with the lie in order for it to be unprotected under the First Amendment. Here there was no harm as a result of what Mr. Alvarez said. Mr. Libby commented “If lies are not protected – have no protection, which is what the government seems to suggest here, then who knows where it could end? If there’s imminent harm that results from the lie, then you know that’s something that Congress has the right to worry about. If there’s not harm, then it shouldn’t matter where you say it or who you say it to.”

The transcript of the oral argument can be read here.