Anyone who knows me is aware of the admiration and respect that I have for people like Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison. The founding fathers were ALL IN, as they gambled their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for the principle of Liberty. I am fortunate to know one such individual who is still very much alive, and a close, personal friend of mine. Bernard von NotHaus, monetary architect for the Liberty Dollar.
In March Bernard was convicted of counterfeiting, prompting me to write an article called If ponies rode men, and if grass ate cows. However patriots of Bernard's caliber do not give up in the face of overwhelming odds and government stupidity. Having brought the issue to national attention by standing unflinching and (nearly) alone against the federal government, the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) decided to come to Bernard's defense. I'm pretty sure this is what my friend, Jack Blood means when he says, "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid."
Bernard has filed an appeal to the original trial, and GATA has been granted permission to submit an amicus curiae brief on his behalf. In their motion to the court requesting permission to submit their "friend of the court" brief, they immediately cast doubt on the government's foundational argument.
The indictment in this case appears to rest primarily upon the factual allegations that the purpose and use of the Liberty dollar was "to compete with United States currency," not to imitate it. See Indictment ¶¶ 12-16, 31. To be sure, the indictment contained some factual allegations of similarity between the Liberty dollar and U.S. currency (see ¶¶ 35-44), but none of these factual allegations was coupled with any allegation that the Liberty dollar was "counterfeit," or was calculated to deceive a person exercising ordinary caution and observation in the usual transaction of business. To the contrary, the factual allegations of similitude followed on the heels of Paragraph 33, which plainly stated the gist of the indictment’s charge - that the Liberty dollar was illegal, not because it was "counterfeit," but because it was "compet[ing] with the official coinage of the United States."
GATA calls to attention the fact that the government accuses Bernard of one thing, while submitting evidence for something altogether different. This is essentially a legal bait and switch, which is a common tactic for members of the Bar Association. Then GATA continues it's argument by challenging the prosecution's interpretation of the Constitution.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 does not describe Congress’s power to "coin money" to be "exclusive." Had the grant of power to coin money been intended to be exclusive, there would have been no need for Article I, Section 10 expressly to forbid the States to "coin money." Furthermore, Article I, Section 8, Clause 6 vested Congress with the power the "to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting ... the current coin of the United States." And as the district court stated in United States v. Bogart, supra, to "make it a crime to make or utter any pieces of metal, with the intent that the pieces shall serve as a substitute for money [would be] foreign to the law of counterfeiting," and presumably, outside the powers delegated to Congress. Thus, a non-exclusive enumerated power, expressly prohibited to the States by Article I, Section 10, is, under the Tenth Amendment, reserved to the People. In short, the constitutional text cannot be construed to deny to the people the power voluntarily to determine, among themselves, the medium of exchange, except in one respect - the people have no power to promote a medium of exchange that would counterfeit the one created by Congress. The constitutional question as to whether Congress can prohibit a private citizen from creating a medium of exchange "of original design" is a question of first impression, and is one of signal importance in this case. It deserves full briefing by all parties and a written opinion by this Court.
Be still my heart! For those of you who are unfamiliar with legal jargon, when GATA says that this is a question of first impression, they are saying that there are no previous court decisions to refer to. There is no stare decisis, implying that the court has an opportunity (and obligation) to establish an important precedent on this issue. This a very impressive way to point out that the ball is firmly in the government's court.
Fortunately the court granted GATA permission to submit their amicus curiae which opened the door for a significant legal slam-dunk. With a "come big or stay at home" attitude that I greatly respect, GATA begins by explaining how important this decision is to everyone in the United States.
GATA has an abiding interest in a correct understanding of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution regarding coinage and counterfeiting. GATA believes that the Government’s effort to use this case to end the people’s right to develop and use whatever means of exchange that they freely choose constitutes a dangerous step on the path to tyranny.
Wow! Path to tyranny? Didn't we cross that bridge in 1913? Mens rea is another legal term which means "guilty mind". If someone makes an effort to cover up their actions, it is usually considered evidence that they knew their actions were wrong. Following the adage that the best defense is a good offense, GATA establishes the fact that Bernard made no attempt to conceal his actions, as anyone guilty of counterfeiting might be expected to do. Instead, it establishes the fact that Bernard consciously and actively challenged the legitimacy of the government's authority to a money monopoly. Bernard may be many things, but a counterfeiter guilty of defrauding the public isn't one of them.
Instead of making a serious effort to address the constitutional questions raised by its contention that Congress is authorized to create a money monopoly, with full powers to outlaw any and all competing currencies, the Government press release cast the Liberty Dollar threat as a political, not commercial, one - introducing "von NotHaus [a]s the founder of an organization called the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code, commonly known as NORFED and also known as Liberty Services." Counterfeiters whose interest is defrauding the public to "make a fast buck" (i) do not draw attention to themselves, (ii) do not base their business model on differentiating their offerings from U.S. currency, and (iii) do not then write a book about what they are planning to do. Yet all these things Mr. von NotHaus has done.
I have studied the Constitution and Bill of Rights for the last thirty years. I have dedicated the last dozen years of my life to traveling the country (at great expense) attempting to teach people the philosophical basis for their Liberty. In all that time I have never been required to place my life and liberty in jeopardy in order to defend my principles. Bernard von NotHaus is living proof that some people are not just talk and hot air. Risking the very real possibility that he could spend the rest of his life behind bars, Bernard may change our lives and the very course of history by defending the truth when everyone else lacks the courage to do so. From a previous newsletter, Bernard writes:
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% of the wealth it was created to protect.
As I've said before, I am very fortunate to have Bernard von NotHaus as a close and personal friend, and I will stand beside him on this issue, regardless of the possible consequences.
When I die, Liberty is no longer my problem.