[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Feds Crush Collectors’ Age-Old Free Trade Rights | 02-15-2013
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
63°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
September 5
1876 - Charles Crocker drives 9.25-oz. golden spike at Lang (Canyon Country), uniting L.A. with nation by rail [story]


Commentary by Wayne G. Sayles
| Friday, Feb 15, 2013

waynesaylesSome 50,000 Americans who call themselves ancient coin collectors are hopeful that Feb. 12, 2013, will be remembered by numismatic historians as an auspicious day.

Washington bureaucracy broke with law and tradition in 2007 by imposing draconian import restrictions on ordinary coins that are freely and routinely exchanged and collected worldwide, say coin collecting advocates in filed court documents.  Under these restrictions, American collectors are now subjected to requirements that they claim are impossible to meet and are extralegal on several counts.

“Congress limited restrictions to culturally significant artifacts found in a specific country, but now Americans importing common coins made in a specific country are forced to prove the negative — that their coins have not illegally exited a specified country subsequent to the signing of a bi-lateral agreement between that nation and the United States,” said  attorney Peter K. Tompa.

Since coins have flowed endlessly across national boundaries, without documentation, for more than two thousand years, collectors argue that it is impossible to say with certainty where any given specimen has been during that time.  Literally millions of very common and low value ancient coins lack specific pedigrees of ownership or “provenance” and consequently cannot satisfy the burden of proving a negative.

Are these coins all, by default, illicit because it is impossible to say where they were found in modern times?  Not at all, say collectors who point to a 600-year-old legitimate market that has witnessed a constant and massive flow of ancient coins from every conceivable source country.   Many believe a presumption of guilt has trumped the venerable presumption of innocence that Americans hold dear.

Law enforcement agencies in some third-world countries, and even more prosperous nations, are sometimes unable or unwilling to enforce their own nationalistic cultural property laws.  As a result, some objects of “national patrimony” eventually find their way to foreign markets.

Under U.S. law, foreign nations may in exceptional cases appeal to the U.S. State Department for emergency assistance through import restrictions.  However, a collector group’s lawsuit complains of bureaucratic overkill, where the State Department has reacted capriciously by creating what amounts to broad barriers to trade in all undocumented objects, both licit and illicit, significant and insignificant, that they arbitrarily designate as cultural property at risk.  That, collectors believe, is extralegal and ignores the plain language of the law.

By importing a group of unprovenanced Cypriot and Chinese coins from a British dealer in 2009, the nonprofit Ancient Coin Collectors Guild set in motion a test case before the U.S. District Court at Baltimore to challenge the State Department’s interpretation of law and their actions.

After lengthy hearings and deliberation, a trial court dismissed the case claiming that the issue was not one for the courts to decide. Disagreeing with this view, the ACCG appealed that decision to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals where ultimately the lower court ruling was affirmed.

The essence of the ACCG argument is that the governing law does not give unbridled authority and discretion to the president’s representative in the State Department, particularly when another agency, U.S. Customs, is ultimately responsible for the final regulations. They argue that the court should say what the law is and judge whether its provisions were followed in the process of imposing the restrictions being challenged.  After almost four years of litigation, no lower court has been willing to take that stand.

Meanwhile, the case has grown from a rather provincial test of bureaucratic agency decision-making to something of far greater consequence.

Does the executive branch inherit absolute discretion when Congress gives it oversight authority?  Even when there are limits and conditions established in the governing legislation?

This question has now been posed by ancient coin collectors to the United States Supreme Court in a petition for a writ of certiorari.

The potential ramifications are significant and extend well beyond the world of coin collecting.  A decision on this question could well set the bar for presidential discretion for years to come.

From small acorns do mighty oaks grow.

 

Wayne G. Sayles is executive director of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild. He can be reached at director@accg.us.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

2 Comments

  1. Tommy says:

    PFFFT

  2. None Anonymous says:

    Ebay there are thousands of ancient coins crossing borders daily.
    Vcoins has 175 ancient coin dealers.
    The US Government is attempting to stop our hobby.
    Ancient money and modern money cross borders many times a second.
    The US government is acting draconian to a Great hobby of Holding history in your hand.
    Remember Next election, Vote these bums out of office.

Commentary Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: INFO (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Related Content
RECENT COMMENTARY
Friday, Sep 4, 2015
Trump taking on the mainstream media's favoritism of the left is to be hailed. Unfortunately, Trump’s ego spirals him into orbit with no filter. One would think with his power and the circles he runs in, he’d be a bit more sophisticated. Shame on me for setting a bar for Trump. I learned long, long ago that money doesn’t translate into class.
Thursday, Sep 3, 2015
Most of the published reactions to the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to cancel Cemex’s Soledad Canyon mining contracts have been nothing short of naïve. Simply put, it’s a little soon to be singing, “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead,” while the witch still has a few flying monkeys circling over Soledad Canyon.
Thursday, Sep 3, 2015
I slowed down, since more often than not, several quail will follow the lead across the road. Sure enough, that is what happened. It was the last two quail that decided to run halfway across the road; then they jumped up and flew into the thick rabbit bush. I guess they needed to show the group they were independent thinkers.
Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015
Following the Old Town Newhall Specific Plan, which was created after extensive outreach to and input from the community, the city is interested in finding a development partner to build a mixed-use project, anchored by an art-house movie theater, on the former redevelopment block property across from the Newhall Library.
Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015
Your city works hard to plan and implement workshops and programs that are family-friendly, informative and great contributors to our amazingly high quality of life.
Monday, Aug 31, 2015
Now that the dust (pun intended) has settled, it’s a shame to see who is taking the credit for winning the good battle. It is also frustrating to still see some residents not appreciating what our city actually accomplished. They still don’t get the potential domino effect Cemex would have had on our quality of life.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1876 - Charles Crocker drives 9.25-oz. golden spike at Lang (Canyon Country), uniting L.A. with nation by rail [story]
A vehicle that crashed into a power pole and ended up in the front window of a medical office building knocked out electricity to Canyon Country traffic lights during rush hour Friday, hampering the drive home for thousands of commuters.
Crash Into Medical Building Knocks Out Power, Clogs Roads
High School Football Scores for Friday September 4, 2015
High School Football Scores: September 4, 2015
Academy Class No. 407 is comprised of 46 male and five female Deputy Sheriffs, one male Police Officer from Glendale Police Department, and one male Police Officer from Inglewood Police Department. The recruits took the oath of office during the ceremony held Friday, Sept. 4, and transitioned their status into peace officers.
Sheriff Swears In 53 New Officers
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, nurses have reached an agreement with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital after months of negotiations. Plus, grading has begun on the road for the future Castaic High School. Click the link to see those stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, September 4, 2015
Registered nurses at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia have reached a tentative agreement with hospital officials on a new three-year collective bargaining pact that ends a months-long dispute, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced Friday.
Hospital, Nurses Strike a Bargain
The most prominent advocate of the "end of life" legislation that's working its way through Sacramento - and the lead plaintiff in a related lawsuit - is Christy O’Donnell, a civil rights attorney and former LAPD sergeant who lives in Valencia and suffers from brain, liver, lung, rib and spine cancer. She’s morphine intolerant and is going to die painfully from her illness. She wants to be able to have a physician help her commit suicide - painlessly and legally.
SCV Mom at Center of End-of-Life Debate Speaks Out (Video)
A commercial airliner flying over the Lancaster City area of the Antelope Valley Thursday night, Sept. 3, reported to air traffic controllers that their cockpit was illuminated several times by a powerful green laser light. The city and sheriff's fixed-wing Law Enforcement Airborne Platform System (LEAPS) was sent up, and almost immediately, its cockpit was illuminated several times with the powerful light.
Lancaster Man Tried to Crash Commercial Airliner and Sheriff Plane
Child & Family Center has received a $100,000 grant from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich to fund the development of a new program for psychological testing.
$100K for Child & Family to Do Psychological Testing
The next installment of the ARTree Speaker Series will feature artist and animator Jian Lee and Will Kim.
Next ARTree Lecture:  Two Animators Bring a Unique Approach to Old Town Newhall
Grading began promptly last week after Los Angeles County approved the permit for the construction of a new access road to the site where the new Castaic High School will be built — putting the long-awaited new school one step closer toward completion.
North Access Road to Castaic High School Site Going In
Certain streets in Santa Clarita will be affected for the week of September 7, 2015, for the Santa Clarita Annual Slurry Seal & Overlay Project. During this time, please make sure to read all posted parking signs, as dates are subject to change.
City Street Repaving Sched., Week of Sept. 7 (8)
Public facilities such as City Hall, the three branches of the Santa Clarita Public Library, the Sports Complex, and Community Centers will be closed Monday, Sept. 7. Regular business hours will resume on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Labor Day: City Libraries, Community Centers Closed But Pool Open 12-5
Hearing loss can result in higher medical expenses, negative effects on relationships and shortened life expectancy. For those still in their working years, untreated hearing loss can also have an effect on income.
Ignore Your Ears at Your Peril | By Nola Aronson
A resolution by Assemblyman Scott Wilk, coauthored by Sen. Sharon Runner, to name the Golden Valley Road bridge over State Route 14 for the late "road warrior" Connie Worden-Roberts has cleared both houses of the Legislature unanimously.
Wilk, Runner Get Final OK for Worden-Roberts Bridge Name
A man was transported to the hospital after he struck and killed a loose horse with his car Thursday at about 9:30 p.m. in Agua Dulce.
Man Taken to Hospital After Striking Horse with Car
Castaic and Val Verde: Zone 2 Public Safety and Crime Prevention Information for the Week of 8/24/2015 to 8/30/2015
Blotter: Sexual Assault, Burglaries in Castaic
Stevenson Ranch-West Valencia, Zone 3 Public Safety and Crime Prevention Information for the week of 08/24/15 – 08/30/2015
Blotter: Burglaries, Drug Charges in Stevenson Ranch
During Brake Safety Week last year, 9,989 vehicles were inspected and 1,514 were taken out of service. Brake-related violations are the most frequent reason for commercial vehicles to be taken out of service during roadside inspections by the CHP.
Check Your Brakes: It’s That Time of Year
Trump taking on the mainstream media's favoritism of the left is to be hailed. Unfortunately, Trump’s ego spirals him into orbit with no filter. One would think with his power and the circles he runs in, he’d be a bit more sophisticated. Shame on me for setting a bar for Trump. I learned long, long ago that money doesn’t translate into class.
The Disappointing Donald
1867 - Harald Sandberg born in Norway; built Sandberg's Summit Hotel on the Ridge Route [story]
Palmdale Station Detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying a vehicle used in two trailer thefts from Agua Dulce Storage on Davenport Road.
Wanted: Info on Trailer Thefts in Agua Dulce
Santa Clarita City Council agenda for Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015.
Council Tuesday: Lost Cyn. Bridge Widening; Bouquet Cyn. Senior Apts.
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a local restaurant is hut down due to health code violations. Plus, September is National Suicide Prevention Month and various organizations in Santa Clarita are here to help. Click the link to see those stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Thursday, September 3, 2015