Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Thursday's Affordable Care Act ruling from the Supreme Court got so much attention, another decision was mostly overshadowed. The Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, the law that makes it a criminal offense to lie about military service and medals.
In a 6-3 vote, the justices said the law violates free speech guaranteed in the First Amendment.
VFW Post 641 here in Columbia is named for Col. Charles Murray, a Medal of Honor winner who passed away last year.
The bar at VFW Post 641 was quiet Friday morning, but you could almost feel ghosts of the conversations that will be heard later that night. One topic that won't be discussed if Post Commander Teo Rivas has his way: the controversial Supreme Court ruling striking down the Stolen Valor Act. "Never discuss politics or religion at a bar," he says emphatically, "Guess what? There will never be a decision made at the bar!"
He admits the decision surprised him. "Got my cup of coffee and I flipped over the paper and was like, 'Wait a minute," he recalls. But, he still needs time to understand all sides. "Everybody seems to jump at first stroke," he says.
The national VFW organization made their stance known though, calling the ruling disappointing and vowing to challenge far-fetched stories. For Rivas, a former drill sergeant and Korean War draftee, the lessons he learned in the Army and then taught to countless others are what should rise above the controversial issues.
"When that young man comes in and he's bewildered, he's looking for a way of life. Whether he stays in the service or he goes back to his community, he goes back as a better man," Rivas says.
Just like his friend, Medal of Honor recipient and post namesake, Col. Charles Murray.