[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
70°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
March 31
1870 - George Gleason & partners apply for patent on gold lode in Soledad Canyon [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
Monday, Mar 30, 2015
f ever you leave the comfort of your couch and space heater, it’s a good idea to know what hypothermia is, how to prepare for cold weather, and what you need to do to prevent it.
Monday, Mar 30, 2015
Iran did nothing legally to incorporate human rights as provided in the UN recommendations. So the question remains: Why did the UN choose Iran to lead the UN’s Human Rights Council, when they haven’t even adopted them in their own country?
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015
The foxtail is one of the most dangerous plants to animals. Dogs get the spiky, dry flowers in their ears, eyes, between their toe pads and even under their skin. Even humans get these weeds stuck in their socks, shoes and clothing. There is a safe way to eradicate them.
Monday, Mar 23, 2015
One of Greg Amsler's biggest challenges has been luring diners to move off from their comfort wine to a new discovery that he is convinced they will love. When pushing one of his new wine discoveries, he’ll offer samples just so the wine gets some exposure.
Monday, Mar 23, 2015
ISIS doesn’t fear us. Iran doesn’t fear us. Russia doesn’t fear us. None of our former allies trust us to come through for them. Egypt, the Kurds and the Jordanians begging for arms so they can fight on the ground as the president has asked them to. What’s he doing? Nothing. In fact, he’s holding up shipments to them. What’s the upside to being an ally? Ask Netanyahu.
Sunday, Mar 22, 2015
Most of those who received tickets for entering the intersection within the difference time in the chart above after the light changed to red were ticketed unfairly. This is huge. We are talking thousands of unfair tickets and several million dollars in unfair fines at $490 per violation.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, L.A. County Coroners released information about two investigations plus the Board of Supervisors approved a plan to add funds for the construction of a local bridge.
SCV NewsBreak for Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Award winning animation director Jorge Guiterrez is slated to discuss his first animated feature, "The Book of Life" at the Newhall Community Center in April.
Get Animated with Jorge Guiterrez & The ARTree
Toxicology reports cleared up several outstanding questions regarding a pair of death investigations, and perhaps raised more likely to remain unanswered Tuesday.
Coroner Releases Identity of Two Deaths
Los Angeles County officials are expected Tuesday to approve a $450,000 change in work on a $37 million project to build a State Route 126 and Commerce Center Drive Interchange bridge in Castaic.
County Approves Additional Funds For $37 Million SR-126 Bridge
Cindy Newhall-Weyant died in her home in Costa Mesa early Tuesday morning after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, according to family members.
Cindy Newhall-Weyant Dies At Age 51 After Long Illness
How to Successfully Start Your New Business; Basics of Intellectual Property; Beyond the Business Card; plus more
SBDC April Calendar
Princess will air The Sound of Music on its Movies Under the Stars top deck screens and feature sing-a-longs, trivia games and more to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the cruise line and the musical.
Princess Cruises and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Take The Sound of Music Out to Sea
The 2015 Spring Print Competition hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley Photographers Association will be held Saturday, May 2 at the Saugus Train Station at Heritage Junction in William S. Hart Park in Newhall. Judging will be conducted from 9 a.m. to noon, with a free reception for photographers and the public from 5 to 8 p.m.
SCV Photographers Association Hosts Spring Print Competition
Holy Week marks the last week of Lent and the beginning of Easter celebrations.
Easter, Passover And Holy Week Events In Santa Clarita
Santa Clarita Valley water officials are calling for a return to the summer watering schedule this week for their water conservation plan.
Santa Clarita Valley To Resume 3-Day Watering Schedule
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission seeks LA County youth and adult community and professional choirs, music ensembles, folk and traditional artists and dance companies to perform in the 56th Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration on December 24, 2015
County Arts Commission Seeks Performers for Holiday Celebration
The Master’s College women’s soccer team has continued to prepare for its 2015 campaign by signing Lancaster, California, native, Hailey Gomillion.
Lady Mustang Soccer Signs Hailey Gomillion
Titled “iwitness,” the installation consists of an inter-connected network of towering asymmetrical photographic sculptures wrapped with massive portraits of eyewitness survivors of the Genocide. The sculptures have no right angles and their irregular angular shapes speak to an unbalanced world, continually at risk of war, ethnic cleansing and genocide. They range in height from eight to fifteen feet.
April 25: Armenian Genocide Centennial Public Art Exhibit
Fire Department officials rescued a woman whose vehicle crashed Monday and went about 100 feet down the side of Vasquez Canyon Road.
Woman Sustains Minor Injuries In Vasquez Canyon Crash
Making his only season at The Master's College count, Russell Byrd has been named to the 2014-15 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball All-America squad as an honorable mention choice.
Byrd Flies To All-American Honors
TMC’s Conner Menez has earned Pitcher of the Week honors on the conference level, while Steve Karkenny has been named the GSAC’s player of the week.
Mustang Baseball Duo Bags Weekly GSAC Honors
After leading the TMC women's basketball team to a GSAC Tournament championship and an appearance in the NAIA National Tournament, sophomores Bianca Cubello and Megan Lindsley have been named to the 2014-15 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball All-America squad as honorable mention choices.
TMC Women’s Basketball Cubello and Lindsley Earn All-American Honors
1870 - George Gleason & partners apply for patent on gold lode in Soledad Canyon [story]
f ever you leave the comfort of your couch and space heater, it’s a good idea to know what hypothermia is, how to prepare for cold weather, and what you need to do to prevent it.
Hypothermia Kills | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
Iran did nothing legally to incorporate human rights as provided in the UN recommendations. So the question remains: Why did the UN choose Iran to lead the UN’s Human Rights Council, when they haven’t even adopted them in their own country?
United Nuts | Commentary by Joe Messina
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak: A Canyon Country man convicted of raping his daughter was sentenced to 143 years in state prison Monday.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, March 30, 2015
The winners of the annual CIF Southern Section-Ford Academic Awards program were announced at the CIF-SS office Monday with several Hart School District teams earning distinction.
Hart District Athletes Honored By CIF-SS For Academic Excellence
The 11th annual Santa Clarita Valley Mayors Prayer Breakfast is coming up, and this year’s keynote speaker comes from the Colombo crime family of New York.
Santa Clarita Valley Mayors Prayer Breakfast To Host Ex-Mafia Boss