Free the Liberty Dollar Man

Recently by Robert Wenzel: Wild Weekend in NYC for LBJ’sGreatGrandkids

It’s a tense time for Bernard von NotHaus. The 67-year-old is waiting to be sentenced for his conviction relating to his selling of what he calls Liberty Dollars.

He says that he had generated revenue of approximately $65 million from the gold and silver coins he sold over the years. In total, von NotHaus estimates there are around 2 million pieces of various size Liberty Dollars out in public. During an interview with him, he proudly told me that he has no unhappy customers since gold continues to climb in price, while the U.S. dollar continues to sink in value.

His sentence could result in anywhere from probation to 15 years. The betting is he will get 3 to 5. That is if the judge in the case does not make history and dismiss the case. It is very much a long shot, but the case could be dismissed.

An Amicus Brief was filed by the Gold Anti-Trust Committee and was then joined by major league Washington D.C. lawyers at William J. Olson PC, who believe strongly that the case should be dismissed.

The briefs are fascinating reading and quote the writing of such scholars as Robert Higgs, William Anderson and Murray Rothbard, in defense of the argument that the case against von NotHaus should be dismissed. The briefs make the correct argument that the Constitution does not limit an individual citizen from coining gold and silver. And as for the counterfeiting charges, von NotHaus has a letter from the chief counsel of the U.S. Secret Service stating that what von NotHaus was doing was not counterfeiting.

There is no time period during which United States District Court Judge Richard Voorhees has to rule on the motion to dismiss. Von NotHaus tells me that in one North Carolina case the Judge took 10 years to rule.

But whenever von NotHaus’ fate is determined, it will be completion of a circle, in a way, for him. Von NotHaus tells me that he first became interested in gold in the early 1970’s when he began reading about gold while living a survivalist lifestyle on the islands of Hawaii. He says it was the book How You Can Profit From the Coming Devaluation by Harry Browne that finally convinced him about the value of gold and silver. When Browne first wrote his book, gold sold for $35.00 an ounce and was illegal for Americans to own, and silver was selling for approximately $1.30 an ounce. The anti-gold fetish of government was beat back somewhat by President Gerald Ford who signed the legislation that made it legal to own gold again.

Now a judge may dismiss the case against von NotHaus, which would in a way continue the advancement of gold freedom for Americans started by Ford. Or, von NotHaus will be sentenced, which will likely mean the return to the isolation of the survivalist for him, but this time with cement walls and prison bars courtesy of the United States government—all because of his attempts to provide Americans with gold and silver in any damn shape or form they want. To call it what they want, and exchange it for whatever purpose they choose.

It is now in the hands of Judge Voorhees to take an historic step in advancing the rights of gold holders, or sentence von NotHaus and send a chilling signal to all Americans that as U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins said following the conviction that what von NotHaus did was "a unique form of domestic terrorism." She bizarrely continued, “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.” And, it would most certainly energize the governments attempts to seize the millions of Liberty Dollars held by the general public. Clearly, dismissal is called for.

The original GATA amicus brief is here.

The GATA/Olson amicus brief is here.

The DOJ response is here.

The second GATA/Olson amicus brief is here.

Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.

2011 Economic Policy Journal