In a Magistrate CourtJune 16, 1981
Let me emphasize that I would like to pay the money due to the Court. I will do so immediately when I learn how I can do so in compliance with the law, without waiving my Constitutional rights. To the best of my knowledge, I cannot obtain gold or silver coin currency. By “currency” I mean commonly used money of which the face value is its current value in exchange and in payment of debts. I assume that the books of account in this Court are kept in units of United States currency.
I wish to assure you that I intend to obey, if possible, every court order which is issued in compliance with the law. I do not wish to demonstrate contempt, or even disrespect, for any legal court in this wonderful country, where people have enjoyed the greatest prosperity and freedom under law which has ever been realized in human history. The courts in this country have helped to make this unprecedented achievement possible by supporting the Constitution of the United States, which has been, and still is, the legal foundation of our freedoms, and the supreme law of the land. I cherish this heritage which is ours, and pray to God that the courts will
continue to protect the rights which people in this country enjoy under our Constitution, and that the judges in our courts, who have sworn that they will support the Constitution of the United States, will honor their oaths and avoid perjury by providing such support when it is needed. The judges in the minor courts, whose jurisdiction does not include cases based on a Constitutional issue, are also sworn to support the Constitution as it relates to matters within their jurisdiction. The people have a right to expect no less of their sworn and trusted officials, who, in their oaths of office, have asked God to help them in supporting the Constitution, and thus have acknowledged that God may curse them if they should knowingly fail to support the Constitution.
I am not trying to be difficult in order to play a game, or to engage in interesting legal maneuvers. To me, the difference between paper money and gold or silver money has profound moral, social, economic, and political implications. As I read history, it seems to me that the writers of our Constitution understood those considerations, I would be happy to explore those considerations with you at great length. But, because the purpose of the Court is to consider legal matters, I have tried to limit the presentation of my case to legal considerations. The writers of our Constitution deliberately gave the people of the United States the Constitutional right to use gold or silver coin exclusively as tender in payment of debts.
If you or anyone else can tell me how I can obtain gold or silver coin currency, please do so, The joy of this discovery will make it a pleasure for me to pay eleven dollars of gold or silver to this court immediately. If nobody can tell me how I can obtain gold or silver currency, then, it seems to me, you cannot find me in Contempt of Court because I failed to do that which it is impossible for me to do without waiving a Constitutional right which is very precious to me.
The Order to Show Cause states that my omission is in
violation of Section 665.5 of the Code of Iowa. That Section refers to a contempt which “consists in an omission to perform an act which is yet in the power of the person to perform.” (emphasis added) Because tendering gold or silver coin currency is an act which is not in my power to perform, my omission does not meet the requirements of this definition of contempt.
To hold me in contempt for failure to tender eleven dollars of gold or silver money does not meet the requirement of Section665.5 of the Code of Iowa, because such an act is not now in my power to perform.
To hold me in contempt for failure to tender eleven dollars of any other money would be contrary to the Constitution of the United States.
Therefore, I should not be held in Contempt of this Court.
(The Magistrate held me in contempt and sentenced me to thirty days in jail. An appeal to the District Court was dismissed. Assessed costs led to the following communication.)
Whereas, the plaintiff owes the court 337.70 units (dollars) of money, and
Whereas, the plaintiff desires to pay what he owes according to law, and
Whereas, the plaintiff has been unable to learn what, according to law, is now the money of the court, or of the United States,
Therefore, the plaintiff now requests that the court make or obtain an official determination of the substance of the money of the court as specified in law.
Supporting information and argument
1. The plaintiff is not asking which instruments the court recognizes, when tendered, as being legal tender of money. The plaintiff is asking a preceding and prior question—what is the money (substance with exchange value) which is owed? What will be recognized as legal tender in payment of a debt is not a pertinent question until after it is determined what it is, if anything, that is legally owed.
2. The plaintiff, uncertain what is now legal money of the court, offers the following possibilities for the court’s consideration:
5) The approval or good favor of bankers, commonly called “credit.”
6) Any substance, as determined in each case by consent, custom, or judicial decree.
3. If the court is unable to determine what is the substance of the money used in the court, the plaintiff requests the court to ask other officials of the State of Iowa, or of the United States, to determine what, according to law, is the substance of the money used in the public courts.
4. To demonstrate his good faith, plaintiff is attaching to this request a promise to pay the money owed to the court, upon official determination of the substance of said money as specified in law.