SCOTUS – Lying Under Oath is Still a Crime
The Supreme Court issued three bad opinions this week, on immigration, health care, and Stolen Valor. Even though they struck down the Stolen Valor Act, they made clear again that lying under oath is perjury and there’s no constitutional right to do that. From Justice Kennedy’s plurality opinion: The same point can be made about what the Court has confirmed is the “unquestioned constitutionality of perjury statutes,” both the federal statute, §1623, and its state-law equivalents. United States v. Grayson, 438 U. S. 41, 54 (1978). See also Konigsberg v. State Bar of Cal., 366 U. S. 36, 51, n. 10 (1961). It is not simply because perjured statements are false that they lack First Amendment protection. Perjured testimony “is at war with justice” because it can cause a court to render a “judgment not resting on truth.” In re Michael, 326 U. S. 224, 227 (1945). Perjury undermines the function and province of the law and threatens the integrity of judgments that are the basis of the legal system. See United States v. Dunnigan, 507 U. S. 87, 97 (1993) (“To uphold the integrity of our trial system . . . the constitutionality of perjury statutes is unquestioned”). Unlike speech in other contexts, testimony under oath has the formality and gravity necessary to remind the witness that his or her statements will be the basis for official governmental action, action that often affects the rights and liberties of others. Sworn testimony is quite distinct from lies not spoken under oath and simply intended to puff up oneself. Meanwhile, the liars keep at it. Justice Alito mentioned some notable cases of prominent people lying about receiving the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, etc.: Notorious cases brought to Congress’ attention included the case of a judge who falsely claimed to have been awarded two Medals of Honor and displayed counterfeit medals in his courtroom; a television network’s military consultant who falsely claimed that he had received the Silver Star….
He appears at veterans’ events and Memorial Day celebrations wearing a cav officer’s hat with gold braid and a flight jacket with an airborne shoulder patch. The Junction Eagle ran a story about him speaking to Vietnam vets, with a picture of him in his costume.
Here’s a link to a good article by Zeke MacCormack in the San Antonio Express News, Executive’s military claims challenged, about one Herbert Clarke Williamson III, a multi-millionaire who is the chairman of a Houston/Paris based company ZaZa Energy, Inc., f/k/a Toreador Resources. He has claimed in many, many prospectuses and other corporate documents given to investors that he is a “highly decorated Vietnam veteran,” who flew helicopters in Vietnam, and rose to full colonel in the Army Reserves. In fact, he was in the Connecticut National Guard, rose to private, and his MOS was Field Wireman. His four months of active duty was his basic training for the Guard.
Isn’t this as bad as committing perjury? The companies took millions of dollars from investors who relied on ZaZa and Toreador’s prospectuses, which by the way, are filed with the SEC and are supposed to be truthful.
He also swore to his fake military record in not one but two depositions. I really don’t expect the District Attorney or the US Attorney to do anything – the Government has more important things to do – like prosecute Roger Clemens.
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