The Stevens Rehabilitation Tour Chugs Along: Next Stop United States v. Alvarez

February 14th, 2014

At a recent speech to the ABA Forum on Communications, Justice Stevens weighed in on a case decided after he left the bench, United States v. Alvarez. Ron Collins reports:

Justice Stevens disapproved of the Court’s judgment in United States v. Alvarez (the 2012 stolen valor case). “I agree,” said Stevens (a WW II Bronze Star veteran), “with the reasoning and conclusion of Justice Alito’s dissent.” Nonetheless, Stevens found  the first sentence of that dissent to be “inaccurate.” According to Stevens, and contra Alito, “the Court did not hold that ‘every American has a constitutional right to claim to have received that singular award.’” All the Court did was strike down as overbroad a particular federal statute; it thus did not condone all such false and deceptive speech.

The first sentence of Alito’s dissent provides:

Only the bravest of the brave are awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, but the Court today holds that every American has a constitutional right to claim to have received this singular award.

I’m glad Justice Stevens concurred to place a limiting construction on Alvarez.

For some reason, the speech (unlike all of his other talks) does not appear on the Supreme Court’s web site.

Justice Stevens also proves the rule of five with comments like this:

During the ABA Q & A period, Justice Stevens was asked if he thought it was necessary to have a constitutional amendment to overrule the 2010 Citizens United case. He replied: “Well, either a constitutional amendment or one more vote.”