The United States Supreme Court recently overturned the Stolen Valor Act on the grounds that the law’s blanket prohibition on falsely claiming to have received a military medal or decoration violated the First Amendment right to free speech. This Article uses the controversy provoked by the law to explore the implications of offering compensation for military service in the form of medals. How is compensation in medals related to monetary compensation? Querying the distinctions between money and medals — and the ways in which the boundaries around medals are drawn and policed — offers a means of considering the forms of value that underlie compensation for the work of those who fight in the name of the nation. In an era where value is increasingly assessed in monetary terms, what might medals tell us about the resistance of certain forms of value to such conversion? Furthermore, understanding the relation between medals and money is of vital importance because, this Article contends, the government’s increased use of private military contractors, who are ineligible for most military medals, constitutes a retrenchment from a workforce that is paid in both forms of value — honor and money — to one that is paid in money alone.
North Dakota Law Review
The Value of Valor: Money, Medals and Military Labor,
N.D. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.buffalo.edu/articles/143