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George Washington’s famous quote, “I cannot tell a lie,” has been debunked by historians as an apocryphal story about the value of truth-telling that (ironically) was likely made up by a biographer shortly after the late president’s death. Whether or not President Washington’s parable has any basis in fact, on June 28 the Supreme Court took aim at the moral of the story. In United States v. Alvarez, the court held that, even if Washington never wanted to tell a lie, under the First Amendment, he (and all the rest of us) certainly had the right to do so. Even one about chopping down a cherry tree.

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