How the Stolen Valor Act Became Law

How the Stolen Valor Act Became Law

Unit 6

Legal Methods and Process

LS500

Introduction

Many men and women have given their own lives fighting for our American rights and freedoms, paying the ultimate price, Life! Giving up one’s own life for others is such a selfless act and all who have been part of our the United States (US) military branches, past through the present, deserve high recognition by memorials, promotion stripes, medals, etc., and other ways of showing our gratitude. Unfortunately, there have been many individuals that have verbally and/or written articulating that they have/has/is/are a member of our armed forces for self-gratitude and greedy intentions. Therefore, the “Stolen Valor Act” was passed into law in 2006. The legislative process in passing a proposed bill into law takes many steps to accomplish. This paper will discuss how this bill was passed into law after the many steps that are involved in the legislative process and how the “Stolen Valor Act” bill was eventually signed into law in 2013.

Legislative Process

At the federal level, the process of making a bill into law takes seven different steps. The first step is creating a bill by a member of the House or Senate draft a proposed bill that will be heard by Congress for consideration. The House clerk then assigns the bill a unique number for the House of Representatives and one unique to the Senate (Zero to Three., 2019, para. 2). The second step is where the bill for consideration will be assigned to a committee or a subcommittee (committee action). Requests for reports from government agencies, hearings are held to enable expert witnesses to provide testimony regarding the issue, a revision of the bill (mark up), or report the bill for consideration from a subcommittee to a full committee or if the tabling (laying aside) of the bill is desired (Zero to Three., 2019, para. 3). The third step is floor action where the bill is returned to the House or Senate for approval via further debating on the issue. Amendments to the bill, additional wording added to the bill or any alterations that are necessary for the approval of the bill. Voting on the bill occurs during the fourth step. Members of the House and Senate vote on their “respective versions” of the bill (Zero to Three., 2019, para. 4). The fifth step is the time when the bill must be accepted by both chambers of Congress and the step where any legislative disagreements regarding the House and Senate versions of the bill are resolved in conference committees (Zero to Three., 2019, para. 6). During bill conferences, advocates for the House and Senate are sent to speak for the respective parties for bargaining and negotiations for the bill. A compromised version of the bill will be documented in a Conference Report which must be agreed upon by both Congressional Chambers before it can go further for presidential consideration. Included in the Conference Report will be the “Joint Statement of Managers of the Conference” pertinent to the recommendation of a common version of the bill and the intent of provisions by the legislature (Zero to Three., 2019, para. 7-8).

Public law is established during the sixth step in law creation if the President approves and signs the bill. During the Presidential action in law creation, once a bill passes both Chambers, if the President comments on or refuses the bill, this action is known as a “veto” and may be remanded back to Congress for reconsideration. Within ten days if the president has not completed any action on the bill, it will automatically become law. However, if Congress has decided to shut down during the ten days that a bill was sent to the president and it is not signed by the president, this is an automatic veto known as a “pocket veto” (Zero to Three., 2019., para 9). Lastly, the creation of law occurs and a Public Law number is then assigned by the Office of Federal Register and a printed copy is then printed by the Government Printing Office (Zero to Three., 2019., para 10).

Stolen Valor Act House and Senate Bills

The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was initially passed as Public Law 109-437, which made it a crime to falsely portray oneself as being of military patronage. However, this bill was criticized by people stating that it was a violation of the First Amendment and was vague in the dissertation of who may be criminally charged and for what regarding veteran status.

The Senate launched the “companion bill S. 210” and currently has 21 co-sponsors. The bill H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 passed the House by an astonishing 390 to 3 vote. Senate did not approve of this until two days later after it was further clarified in the writing to state: “Whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefits, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient of a decoration or medal shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than one year, or both” (The American Legion., 2019). The Supreme Court did rule that the bill that was introduced by Representative Joe Heck (NV) was, in fact, constitutional, but he narrowed his wording as noted above and the approval and acceptance by the Senate came two days later.

Representative, Joe Heck’s Veteran Advisory Panel informed him of issues with the Act of 2006 and the need for revision was necessary during a meeting of his southern Nevada congressional district meeting. Members of this panel are local veterans that keep Heck informed of any issues pertinent to local veterans and discuss what can be adjusted to assist veterans in maintaining the right to benefits for health, monetary benefits, medals, badges and other awards that were issued by Congress for the serving in any of the armed forces in the U.S. The American Legion, other veterans, and military organizations all supported the H.R. 258: The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 (American Legion., 2019).

The Stolen Valor Act Law seems to be of importance because of the lost lives of many men and women or the injuries sustained by such while fighting for the freedoms and rights of every American citizen and it took time to finally get signed into law. With that being said, if our own government, Chambers of Congress did not pass this into law unanimously, then how can the American people continue to have respect for governmental entities and/or individuals who are members of it? This is one law that needed a breakdown of the introducer’s words to clarify exact repercussions that would be imposed and to whom they will be imposed.

The Void-for-Vagueness Doctrine, US Statute 16.3 is one doctrine the Supreme Court uses as a tool to assist in ruling on cases. Included in 16.3 is the “Vagueness and the First Amendment”, and stipulates what is to be included in specific criminal laws, such as laws that are pertinent to the Constitutional right of freedom of speech. Requiring individuals to know what activity would be criminal in relating to speech because the vagueness may be deterring individuals to participate in protected speech, as well as having clear guidelines for law enforcement officials to reference (Rotunda and Nowak., 2016. Pp. 686-687). The narrowing of Heck’s introduced bill regarding false impersonation of being a veteran is a great example of the vagueness doctrine and some reasoning behind the final passing of the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 into law.

References

Rotunda, R. D., and Nowak, J. E. (2016). Principles of Constitutional Law. LEG, Inc. d/b/a West Academic. St. Paul, MN.

The American Legion. (2019). Stolen Valor Act of 2013. Retrieved from

https://www.legion.org/legislative/updates/215816/stolen-valor-act-passes-house-senate

Zero to Three., (2019). Advocacy Tool. How a Bill Becomes a Law. Retrieved from

https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/728-how-a-bill-becomes-a-law