Saturday, December 28, 2013

Objection: “This Note Is Legal Tender!”

(Crossposted from the Tenth Amendment Center's Constitutional Tender Blog)




In 2009, when Georgia Rep. Bobby Franklin introduced my first version of the Constitutional Tender Act (HB 430) in the Georgia House, we knew it wasn’t just going to be difficult to get passed into law — it was going to be difficult to get any co-sponsors, it was going to bee ord in the Senate…

In short, it was going to be difficult, all around. Why? Because the bill would actually return the State of Georgia to obedience to the U.S. Constitution… and we knew that almost every single legislator there was clueless about what the Constitution actually required, at least when it came to monetary policy.

So, when the bill (which did get one co-sponsor — Rep. Barry Loudermilk, who later won a seat in the State Senate and is now running for U.S. Congress) was assigned to the Banks and Banking Committee, we were happy. Not only was that the right committee, it was a good committee, for a number of reasons… not the least of which was, because the Chairman was a friend of mine for whom I had campaigned when I lived in his district.

I knew he was a staunch limited-government conservative. I knew he took his oath to the Constitution seriously. And I knew he would be willing to at least listen to why this bill was needed. So when I asked him to actually give the bill a chance, he said he’d “do what he could”. And he did — he assigned it to not one, but two subcommittees, and we set to work with a coalition of grassroots activists across the State to pressure at least one of those Chairmen to hold a hearing.

Honestly, we didn’t hold out much hope for that happening. It was late in the session, which made it more unlikely we’d see any action at all. So, when we suddenly got word that there would be a combined subcommittee hearing for the bill — and soon — we were very happy. We quickly organized our supporters, put together our supporting speakers, and made sure we had a great turnout for the hearing.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of that first hearing was the questions and comments made by the legislators on the subcommittees (and by the speakers in opposition). That experience helped me to draft an improved version of the bill in the next session (HB 3 — since we didn’t get a vote after the first hearing), to cover areas that obviously needed revision. It also helped me to realize that I had actually underestimated the legislators’ lack of understanding of what the Constitution requires when it comes to “legal tender” in the States.

That point was driven home when another State Representative on the committee — again, someone I had dealt with a number of times in the past, whom I knew to be a pretty strong limited-government conservative who often spoke strongly in favor of strict constitutionalism — took out a dollar bill during the hearing, held it up, and asked me point-blank:

“This Federal Reserve Note printed by the United States of America… it’s stamped on here, it says that ‘This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private’… and it has the force of law, correct?”

First, I made a small correction in his statement — Federal Reserve Notes are only technically printed by the United States government (Bureau of Printing and Engraving); they’re printed for the Federal Reserve, which of course is not an agency of that government. Then I responded that yes, it is U.S. law that FRNs are legal tender for all debts, public and private; but I also reminded him that the U.S. government is under the U.S. Constitution, so any “law” that’s passed only has the force of law if it’s Constitutional. (He asked me if it has been found to be unconstitutional by any court, to which I replied, “Not yet.”)
The point which he was trying to make, in the limited amount of time we had, was that Congress had passed a law declaring Federal Reserve Notes to be “legal tender for all debts, public and private,” and so, he believed, States are required to obey that law and use FRNs for all debts owed by and to the State. Therefore, he claimed, the Constitutional Tender Act — which would force the State to once again not “make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts”, as required by Article I, Section 10 — was unnecessary, since Georgia was in compliance with federal law.

But the point which I was trying to make in response, in the limited amount of time we had, was that since that section of the Constitution has never been amended in any way, the State was still required to only use gold and silver for all of its debts, regardless of anything that Congress may tell them to do to the contrary — because Congress cannot force States to disobey the Constitution. As noted in our FAQ,
“Laws passed by Congress, such as legal tender laws, cannot contradict the Constitution. Article I, Section 10 states very clearly: ‘No State shall… make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.’ Therefore, if any State accepts or pays with – in other words, “tenders” – any other ‘Thing’ (such as Federal Reserve Notes) except gold or silver coins, it is in violation of the Constitution. It’s that simple. 
Another thing to consider is that the U.S. Supreme Court itself has stated in Lane County v. Oregon, 74 US 71 (1868), ‘the general words “all debts” were not intended to be taken in a sense absolutely literal… the clause making the United States notes a legal tender for debts has no reference to taxes imposed by state authority, but relates only to debts in the ordinary sense of the word, arising out of simple contracts or contracts by specialty, which include judgments and recognizances.’ It also stated in Hagar v. Reclamation District No. 108, 111 U.S. 701 (1884), ‘The acts of Congress making the notes of the United States a legal tender do not apply to involuntary contributions in the nature of taxes or assessments exacted under state laws, but only to debts in the strict sense of the term; that is, to obligations founded on contracts, express or implied, for the payment of money.’”
Think of it this way: in the same section of the Constitution (Article I, Section 10), it states, “No State shall… coin Money”. Now, imagine that Congress, as a cost-cutting measure (I know, I’m dreaming here), decided to shut down the U.S. Mint, which coins all of our money (under Section 8). They realize that we all still need quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies, so they pass a law requiring every State to coin its own money.

Well, then, that means that every State would have to coin money, right? It’s the law!

Wrong. As I tried to explain to that State Representative, any “law” that’s passed by Congress only has the force of law if it’s Constitutional. Article VI, Paragraph 2 states, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof… shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” So if a law is passed which is not made in pursuance of the clear words of the Constitution, than that “law” is not a “law” at all — as John Marshall, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, said in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), “an act of the legislature, repugnant to the constitution, is void.” Justice Stephen Johnson Field, delivering the opinion of the court in Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425 (1886), wrote, “An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.” Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and the man whose face graces the ten-dollar bill, wrote in The Federalist No. 33, “acts of the large society [that is, the federal government -- WG] which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers… will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such.” And Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States, stated emphatically in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, “Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

Therefore, if Congress passed a law requiring every State to coin its own money, that “law” would be in direct contradiction to Article I, Section 10: “No State shall… coin Money”; that “law” would not be made in pursuance of the clear words of the Constitution, which is required by Article VI, Paragraph 2; and so that “law” would be “void,” “unauthoritative,” an act of “usurpation,” “not a law,” and “inoperative as though it had never been passed.” In other words, every State would be Constitutionally required to NOT follow that “law,” and ONLY follow the clear instructions of the Constitution itself.

The same would hold true if Congress passed laws requiring States to enter into a Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; emit Bills of Credit; pass Bills of Attainder, ex post facto Laws, or Laws impairing the Obligation of Contracts; or grant Titles of Nobility — because every one of those things is clearly and expressly prohibited for the States in Article I, Section 10… just like coining money.

So then, what about that law, which says that Federal Reserve Notes are “legal tender for all debts, public and private”? Does it mean, as that Georgia legislator implied, that States are required to obey that law and use FRNs for all debts owed by and to the State? And does it mean, as he further implied, that the Constitutional Tender Act was unnecessary, since Georgia was in compliance with federal law?

Obviously, the answer is an emphatic NO. By following that law, like every other State in America, Georgia has made some other “Thing” a ”tender in payment” (that is, they have made something else an offer as payment); they have by law declared that they will accept, and pay out, Federal Reserve Notes for any debts owed to or by them. Therefore Georgia, like every State, is in violation of Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution. That is why there is a need for the “Constitutional Tender Act” — a bill template that can be introduced in every State legislature in the nation, returning each of them to adherence to the United States Constitution’s actual “legal tender” provisions.

Hey — why not join us, and take action in your State?

(By the way, “legal tender” laws, along with the Federal Reserve Act itself, very likely are unconstitutional, so States could probably “nullify” those laws as well; but that can be saved for another article.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Planning for AFTER the Federal Reserve's Inevitable Demise

There are several ways to "end the Fed", that is, to finally put an end to the fiscally destructive and economically immoral Federal Reserve System. There are top-down efforts, like Rep. Paul Broun's "End the Fed" and Sen. Rand Paul's "Audit the Fed" bills (both originally Rep. Ron Paul's bills); and there are bottom-up efforts, such as the Constitutional Tender Act. There is also the "long run" approach: due to the very nature of the Fed's destructive and immoral policies, it will eventually implode and collapse under the weight of its own inflationary fiat money system (perhaps a corollary to Keynes' reassurances that "in the long run, we're all dead").

Regardless of how it's accomplished, the eventual demise of the Federal Reserve is inevitable. The question for those who recognize that truth, then, must be: with what monetary system will we replace it? As Ron Paul has repeatedly been asked, "If we get rid of the Fed, what do we put in its place?"

While the most obvious short answer (which Rep. Paul often used) is "Nothing!", we really should discuss what ought to arise in place of the worthless Federal Reserve Notes that everyone uses now. In this article from a year ago, Doug Tjaden (Founder & Executive Director of the Christian Liberty Project) discusses the need for States to implement Constitutional tender laws now, in anticipation of the end of the Fed then.



So They Audit The Fed. Then What?
by Doug Tjaden

Let’s say for the moment that the Senate follows the House’s lead and calls for a full audit of the Federal Reserve. Let’s also dream that President Obama signs it. What are the consequences?

Rumors are, for decades the Federal Reserve has been engaged in the highest form of crony capitalism, big bank favoritism, purchase of politicians, nation building, and the bailout of foreign banks, corporations and governments.  If this is found to be true, it will add to the growing awareness of the Federal Reserve’s other nefarious activities. These include the fact the Fed and its debt-based fiat monetary system is confiscating the wealth of this nation and concentrating it in the hands of a few powerful interests. Not to mention the Fed’s money printing which enables the TSA, NSA, EPA, FDA, NEA, and USDA to unconstitutionally regulate our liberties into oblivion. Indeed, an audit could be the tipping point, generating enough public outcry to finally “end the Fed.”

It begs the question, “What’s next?”

The Federal Reserve Note is the officially recognized currency of the land, having long ago usurped the constitutional dollar as our monetary unit. The Federal Reserve system, like it or not, is responsible for insuring the flow of credit and currency around the nation and the world. Should the decision be made to end the Fed, it would take years to unwind its tentacles from the global economy and to replace Federal Reserve Notes with another currency.

As we call to “repeal and replace” the Federal Reserve System, it might be wise to think ahead and begin building that replacement system now. Unlike Obamacare, there isn’t an existing system which we can fall back on. All fifty states could nullify Obamacare tomorrow and there would be little impact on healthcare. End the Fed tomorrow, and like it or not, the global economy grinds to a halt.

The replacement monetary system that will insure the greatest long term protection of individual liberty is one built on limited regulation and sound money. The former must be dealt with at both the state and national level. The latter must be initiated by the states, and the states must maintain control over it. Centralizing monetary policy has been an abject disaster. The power it wields is too great for any one group of individuals or governmental authorities to handle. Without a broad set of checks and balances, it would fall into abusive hands again.

Seamless integration of a decentralized monetary system built on constitutional tender and controlled by the states is possible. It is what our founders intended. The first step is for states to pass sound money legislation, reinstating gold and silver coin as a tender in payment of debts. We had better begin building the replacement system soon. If you realize it or not, the unstoppable process to end the Fed is already underway as world markets prepare to reject the endless piles of debt-money the Fed is creating. And we are far from ready for it.

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chinese Bank introduces gold and silver coin ATMs

One of the objections we often hear to the Constitutional Tender Act is that it would force the States and their citizens to "buy silver and gold coins" and carry them around in their pockets all of the time. The only way to believe this, is if you believe that you have to "buy Federal Reserve Notes" and carry around hundreds or thousands of dollars in order to buy groceries, pay car payments, pay mortgages, etc.

Of course, you don't. You can use your debit card to pay almost anything nowadays. Bank computer programs automatically compute debits and credits; they can even automatically convert the cost of items from foreign currency to domestic currency, based on whatever the current market exchange rate is.

That's exactly what can be done by the banks under the Constitutional Tender Act's conversion formulas, as this story about getting gold and silver coins from ATMs in China proves. The unfortunate part of this story is that it falls into the modern trap of thinking that exchanging one form of currency -- fiat printed money -- for another form of currency -- gold and silver coins -- is the same as "buying gold or silver coins". If you go into a bank and exchange four $5 Federal Reserve Notes for a $20 Federal Reserve Note, did you just "buy an FRN"?

Of course not. If you exchange $25USD (U.S. Dollar) for $1SAE (Silver American Eagle), you aren't buying a once-ounce silver coin, you're exchanging American legal tender currency. And all you're doing at these Chinese ATMs is exchanging ¥268CNY (Chinese Yuan) for ¥10SP (Chinese Silver Panda) or other denominations -- you're not buying one-ounce silver coins, etc.

Regardless, this story once more shows how the ConTen Act could easily be implemented.



People in Beijing can now buy gold or silver coins at ATMs after the Beijing-based Hua Xia Bank introduced five of the machines earlier this month, according to Hong Kong's We Wei Po.

The bank installed the five machines at its branches across the city in Xidan, Fangzhuang, Zhongguancun, Dongdan and on Qingnian Road.

The ATMs look like ordinary teller machines but have an additional compartment to dispense the gold and silver coins. The machines currently offer panda souvenir gold or silver coins and Year of the Snake silver coin and plate sets.

A single 1-oz panda silver coin priced at 268 yuan (US$40) is the cheapest item available, while the panda gold coin set is the most expensive at 23,800 yuan (US$3,800).

Buyers can purchase the coins using their bank cards. After they place their orders using the machine's touchscreen, their payments are verified through bank card organization China UnionPay and they can pick up their purchased items through the opening on the lower part of the machine.

If they want to purchase more than 20,000 yuan (US$3,200) worth of items, they will first need to place their ID cards on the machine's sensor to verify their identity before the order can be placed, Wen Wei Po said.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Arizona governor vetoes bill making gold, silver legal tender

This is OUTRAGEOUS -- a "Republican" vetoing a bill that (a) would have moved Arizona closer to obeying the U.S Constitution (Article I, Section 10) and (b) would have ended up increasing overall revenue for the State. And why? Because it "would result in lost revenue to the state" and give an "unfair tax advantage" to some businesses that deal in this money.

Gov. Brewer obviously doesn't know anything about (a) the U.S. Constitution or (b) economics.

Oh, and who praised her veto? A leading Democrat, of course.

SHAME.



(Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a measure on Thursday that would have made gold and silver legal tender in the state, saying the legislation could have resulted in lost tax revenue.

The Republican-controlled state legislature voted through the measure last month in a response to what backers said was a lack of confidence in the international monetary system.

The bill called for Arizona to make gold and silver coins and bullion legal tender beginning in mid-2014, joining existing U.S. currency issued by the federal government.

"While I believe the concern over a devalued dollar as a result of an unsustainable federal deficit is justified, I am unable to support this legislation," Brewer, a Republican, said in an open letter to state Senate President Andy Biggs.

Brewer noted that the "administrative and fiscal burdens" for taxpayers and the revenue department "remain vague." She also cited uncertainty over whether the legislation would have required the state to exempt transactions involving collectable coins and bills that were authorized by Congress and could be used as legal tender.

"This would result in lost revenue to the state, while giving businesses that buy and sell collectable coins or currency originally authorized by Congress an unfair tax advantage," she said.

The push to establish gold and silver as currency has become increasingly popular in the United States in recent years among some hardline fiscal conservatives, with the backing of groups including the Tea Party movement, American Principles Project and the Gold Standard Institute.

Senator Chester Crandell, a Republican and sponsor of the bill, previously said the ability to use gold and silver in everyday life in the state was still a "work in progress" and that more legislation was needed before it could be viable. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Democratic state Senator Steve Farley, an opponent of the measure who had warned it could create massive problems for businesses and government officials trying to administer what would in effect be a dual monetary system, welcomed the veto.

"I was very pleased the governor showed the common sense to realize this was a terrible move for Arizona that would have caused incredible negative consequences at a government and business level," Farley told Reuters.

Had Brewer signed the measure, Arizona would have become the second state in the nation to establish the precious metals as legal tender. Utah approved such legislation in 2011.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

AZ Bill making gold legal tender sent to Gov. Brewer

By CRISTINA SILVA
Associated Press


PHOENIX (AP) - A bill allowing people to use gold and silver as legal tender is heading to Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.

The GOP-led Senate gave final approval to the bill that could make Arizona the second state in the nation to recognize gold and silver as legal tender. If signed into law by Brewer, the measure would take effect in 2014.

The state Department of Revenue opposed the measure and it passed in the House only after an amendment was added to exempt the department from having to accept gold or silver as tax payments.

The Senate had previously passed Senate Bill 1439, but it was sent back for final approval after the House amendment passed.

The measure reflects a growing distrust of government-backed money amid the declining value of the dollar.

Send a message encouraging Gov. Brewer at http://www.azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp to sign this bill into law and help restore sound money in Arizona -- and America!

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE...

Sound Money Promotion Act Re-Introduced


Earlier this month, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah introduced S. 768: Sound Money Promotion Act. This legislation seeks to treat gold and silver coins used as legal tender in the same manner as United States currency for taxation purposes.

Under current law, legal tender gold and silver coins are considered to be collectibles for taxation purposes. As such, any gain derived from the sale or exchange of such coins is typically subject to capital gains tax at a rate of 28%. Notably, this is almost double the long term capital gains tax rate of 15% which applies to most other assets such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.

The bill seeks to amend the Internal Revenue Code such that gold and silver coins declared legal tender by the Federal Government or any Sate government would not be subject to taxation.

The Federal Government issued legal tender gold coins for circulation before 1933 and legal tender silver coins for circulation before 1964. In more recent times, legal tender gold and silver bullion coins, such as American Gold and Silver Eagles, have been issued. A multitude of numismatic and commemorative gold and silver coins have also been issued with legal tender face values.

At the state level, Utah and Arizona have both approved measures to make gold and silver legal tender in their respective states. More than a dozen other states have introduced or considered similar measures.

In the 112th Congress, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina had introduced the Sound Money Promotion Act on June 28, 2011. The bill died in committee.

The current bill S. 768 was introduced on April 18, 2013 and has been referred to the Senate Finance committee. The two co-sponsors of the bill are Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE...

Arizona gold bill moving forward



PHOENIX -- A bill that would make gold and silver legal tender in Arizona has passed both the Arizona Senate and the Arizona House of Representatives.

"All this bill does right now is put into place the language to recognize gold and silver coin as legal tender," said Sen. Chester Crandell, the Heber Republican who authored the bill.

The state Department of Revenue has refused to back the bill, but the Arizona House passed an amendment to the bill ensuring that the Department of Revenue would not have to accept gold and silver as payment. Crandell must approve the amendment before it goes to both houses for a final reading then to Gov. Jan Brewer for signing.

Crandell said the bill would remove the commodities tax currently in place for gold and silver.

"This gives a lot of opportunity for those who would like to use an alternative method of payment," Crandell said.

The current bill only has language in place to add gold and silver as legal forms of currency. It does not include instructions for how merchants would accept payment, though Crandell said it would not necessarily mean that customers would have to lug around gold coins.

"I don’t think we need to go back into the dark ages and everybody has to take their gold coins to the store," Crandell said.

Instead, he said he envisions a system where private companies hold the gold and silver and issue credit or debit cards for people to use.

Arizona Democratic Sen. Steve Farley opposed the bill.

"I’ve looked at some of the charts of the value of gold and silver over time and they are anything but stable," Farley said. "In the 19th century when we had private mints we had counterfeiting problems, depressions, bank runs, and people buying up all the gold coins and cornering the market."

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE...