A special marking, a pair of handcuffs, was featured on Liberty Dollar products as money was being raised for the company’s fight with the federal government over its operations
The U.S. Department of Justice is claiming power and authority beyond even what the kings of England held in a case involving private “Liberty Dollar” coins that were offered to individuals who wanted them for investing or for exchanging for goods and services, according to a “friend-of-the-court” legal brief.
The case is against Bernard Von NotHaus, who was convicted on three counts of counterfeiting related to his work with the coins. The claim regarding the arrogation of power was made in a brief filed by members of the law firm of William J. Olson of Vienna, Va., and Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation of Ramona, Calif.
The brief was filed on behalf of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, which was set up in 1999 to educate and litigate against the illegal collusion to control the price and supply of gold and silver, and “protect the civil and constitutional rights of Americans in monetary matters.”
At the center of the dispute is von NotHaus and his Evansville, Ind., company which operated under the Liberty Dollar name and website. That site now reflects a statement that it has been “removed due to court order.”
Von NotHaus produced a series of silver coins, wrote about his offerings, published a book on his plan and eventually attracted the attention of federal authorities, who brought a “counterfeiting” case against him and obtained convictions just weeks ago. The GATA brief was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Statesville Division, as part of the post-conviction proceedings.
The brief argues that the convictions must be overturned and that the case appears to have been used to try to intimidate and threaten Americans, not simply prosecute an offender.
Von NotHaus had explained that his coins were constitutional and that they represented a resistance to an attack on America’s freedoms:
The genesis of liberty is rooted in man’s quest to be free and enjoy his unalienable right to property. No greater property exists – outside of one’s own body – than money, for money represents the product of man’s labor in its physical form. Today the government’s control of money is the greatest threat to individual liberty. The entrenched Federal Reserve banking system, hatched by bankers and politicians back in 1913, has run unchecked for 90 years and has confiscated 96 percent of the wealth it was created to protect.
The Peace Dollar, by Liberty Dollar
The brief explains that that “political challenge … apparently prompted the government’s prosecution in this case, not only to put the Liberty Dollar out of circulation, but also any other money system that would compete with the federally sanctioned currency.”
According to court records, the federal prosecutor’s press release about the case warned, “Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism … While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country. … We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.”
“The U.S. attorney’s intemperate and caustic threat is reminiscent of the days when ‘counterfeit[ing] of the king’s money’ was the ‘sixth species of treason,'” the brief argues.
“In the American republic … there is no ‘sovereign’ but the People of the United States, as the Preamble of the United States Constitution reminds us. Unlike the British government, ‘the people,’ not the government, possess the absolute sovereignty,” it said.
“Ours is a government of ‘enumerated’ powers, and those powers are written in the Constitution to the end ‘that those limits may not be mistaken, or forgotten,'” it continues.
“Not only does the Department of Justice’s press release depart from these great principles, it even goes beyond the English monarchical claim which was limited to ‘actual counterfeiting the gold and silver of this kingdom; or the importing of such counterfeit money with the intent to utter it, knowing it to be false,'” the brief argues.
“According to the U.S. attorney, even a ‘competing’ currency, devoid of these ‘counterfeiting’ attributes, presents a threat to the ‘legitimacy of our democratic form of government.'”
The brief speculates about what “form of ‘infiltration, disruption and dismantling’ the federal government is now involved in.”
“If there is anything ‘insidious’ to be found in this press release, it is not the behavior of Mr. von NotHaus, who had the temerity only to ‘compete’ with U.S. currency, but the language of an official of the U.S. Justice Department, who has the power to prosecute, as well as the ancillary powers to do what she threatens to do – to ‘infiltrate,’ ‘disrupt,’ and ‘dismantle’ organizations – perhaps including organizations such as this amicus [GATA], which believe that the federal government’s crusade against private currency is an effort to prop up an increasingly debased currency in the control of the Federal Reserve, and deprive the American People of one important method to preserve their assets as the dollar continues to decline in value.”
The American public, however, contrary to claims by the prosecution, understood the Liberty Dollar to “reflect a political statement about the nation’s monetary policy … and certainly not an effort to deceive Americans into accepting his Liberty Dollars as though they were U.S. dollars.”
For example, Coin World reported the possible implications of the prosecution:
The government’s approach … could have far-reaching implications for every private mint … Never mind that these privately produced pieces do not replicate the metal content, diameter, weight, design devices and legends used on U.S. coins – the standard definition of a counterfeit. Von NotHaus’ .999 fine silver Liberty Dollars … do not replicate any U.S. coins and by any standard definition are not coins. The United States has never issued .999 fine silver coins in the denominations von NotHaus used … In fact, he spent a lot of money print brochures, books and pamphlets to distinguish his private barter currency from U.S. coins. Von NotHaus espoused the view that his Liberty Dollars were better and had more value than U.S. coins.
Likewise, in Numismaster.com, Patrick Heller wondered if the Department of Justice now would pursue “terrorist organizations” such as the “Royal Canadian Mint, Perth Mint, Royal Mint, Austrian Mint, South African Mint, Casa de Moneda.”
“They all produce large quantities of gold and silver issues sold to people who are not purchasing them for their numismatic value but rather for their status as safe haven alternatives to owning Federal Reserve Notes.”
Still further, the brief argues the U.S. Treasury Department noted in 2005, “It is our understanding that the Liberty Coins are not counterfeits of or in similitude to any official United States coins.”
It then suggests there might be a violation of “section 486,” which concerns “in resemblance” to current coins. But the brief explains there are problems with the argument.
“Neither Article 1, Section 8, Clause 5 nor Section 8, Clause 6 [of the Constitution] purports to grant an exclusive power to Congress. Moreover, if the express grant of power to ‘coin money’ in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 5 is construed as a grant of power in Congress to coin money, to the exclusion of all others, then the written prohibition in the first clause of Article 1, Section 10 – which forbids any state to ‘coin money; emit bills of credit; [or] make anything but gold or silver coin a tender in payment of debts’ – would be wholly redundant,” the brief says.
So under the wording of the Constitution, Congress is granted the power to coin money in one section, and in another section states are prohibited from using anything except gold and silver.
“Unless the Constitution contains similar language prohibiting the People from ‘coining money,’ then the grant of power to Congress to coin money may not be construed rightly to negate the inherent power and natural right of the People to ascribe value to certain metals, predominantly gold and silver, for consensual use as money or a medium of exchange,” the brief explains.
“The Constitution left unchanged the traditional right of the people of the United States to adopt whatever media of exchange they desired in their private commercial transactions,” it quotes monetary scholar Edwin Vieira Jr. saying.
And the Liberty Dollar coins were not counterfeit, it argues.
“Indeed, typically counterfeiting consists of taking a comparatively worthless item, and making it appear to be an item of worth. … Never touted as ‘legal tender’ with which users could pay debts to federal or state governments, or engage in commerce with persons unwilling to accept them, the Liberty Dollar was intended to be a practical, usable medium of exchange with lasting value, which Americans could voluntarily choose to exchange among themselves.”
The case was founded on the “assumption” that competing with the U.S. currency was itself a criminal offense, the brief charges.
“Because the Tenth Amendment reserves to the People to right to create a medium of exchange so long as it does not counterfeit U.S. currency, the government’s main theory of the case is wrong. Accordingly, any verdict … must be set aside.”
The Liberty Dollar organization had released Ron Paul Dollars, Arrest Dollars and others, including those in denominations of $5, $10, $20 and $50.