The Supreme Court will decide whether a law making it a crime to lie about having received military medals is constitutional.
The justices said Monday they will consider the validity of the Stolen Valor Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming support in 2006. The federal appeals court in California struck down the law on free speech grounds and appeals courts in Colorado, Georgia and Missouri are considering similar cases.
The Obama administration is arguing that the law is reasonable because it only applies to instances in which the speaker intends to portray himself as a medal recipient. Previous high court rulings also have limited First Amendment protection for false statements.
The court almost always reviews lower court rulings that hold federal laws unconstitutional.
The case concerns the government's prosecution of Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Calif. A member of the local water district board, Alvarez said at a public meeting in 2007 that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration. In fact, he had never served in the military.