The U.S. government filed a response on June 10 to the amicus curiae brief filed on May 31 by the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee supporting the appeal of Liberty Dollar founder Bernard von NotHaus.
Von NotHaus was found guilty on March 18 of federal charges involving counterfeiting, possessing and selling his own coins with intent to defraud related to his issuance of Liberty Dollars. Von Nothaus and his attorneys appealed the conviction on March 31, defending his actions by saying that the Liberty Dollars are not coins and were never marketed as such.
The government’s 19-page response was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Statesville Division, where the trial was held. The response argues GATA’s brief brings up new constitutional arguments that were not addressed during the trial, and are not at issue, writing, “It is unclear which, if any, specific post-trial defense argument GATA seeks to support, or whether they merely seek to advance their own unique motion at this time.”
Generally, amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs cannot raise new issues. GATA’s brief contends that the court erred in its jury instructions due to the unconstitutionality of a counterfeiting federal statute, citing the government’s post-trial press release and post-trial press coverage to support the argument.
The government further defends the statute — 18 U.S.C. Section 486 — as constitutional, since the powers to coin and regulate the money supply are enumerated powers expressly delegated to the federal government. The response states that by presenting its constitutional argument in an amicus brief, “GATA seeks to advance its private interests by arguing contrary to considerable legal precedent.”
The government also notes that if the court determines that the contested portion of Section 486 is unconstitutional, that the resulting error in the jury instruction would be harmless and would not ultimately warrant a dismissal of the conviction.
In its conclusion, the government frames von NotHaus’ Liberty Dollar production as “wholly inconsistent with historic constitutional principles,” adding that it is beyond common sense to suggest that “were one, hundreds, or even thousands of U.S. citizens to start their own personal monetary systems to compete with, and seek to undermine, the U.S. monetary system, Congress would be required to sit idly by, impotent, regardless of what adverse impact such a scenario might have on that system or the U.S. economy in general.”
The government asked the court to disregard the amicus brief and advised GATA to lobby Congress for the repeal of 18 U.S.C. Section 486 if that is its intention, adding that “the federal courts are not a political forum for GATA to pursue its lobbying interests.” ■