If Money Equals Freedom of Speech, What About Bitcoin?
The U.S. Supreme Court equates money with freedom of speech. Now, The Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is trying to determine whether or not Bitcoin is money. If so, should Bitcoin also be equated with freedom of speech?
The Debate About Whether Bitcoin is Money Gains Steam
Although there is a lack of consensus, many argue that Bitcoin is money. Early this year, Goldman Sachs issued a report entitled “Bitcoin as Money.” When the report was released, Forbes asked the economists involved in the study whether Bitcoin could succeed as a form of money.
“In theory, yes,” the Goldman economists replied.
According to Forbes, for these economists:
If Bitcoin is capable of facilitating transactions at a low cost or can provide better risk-adjusted returns for portfolios, then it is as good as money.
On the other hand, the courts have struggled to define what Bitcoin is. For instance, New York courts have held that Bitcoin is money. The New York Journal provides several examples in which Bitcoin was considered as such.
One example is The Silk Road Case, United States v. Ulbricht, 31 F. Supp. 3d 540 (S.D.N.Y. 2014), which stated:
The court found that Bitcoin fit within the meaning of a financial transaction involving the movement of funds for purposes of the money laundering statute, 18 U.S.C. §1956, and upheld the indictment.
Another — United States v. Murgio, 209 F. Supp. 3d 698 (S.D.N.Y. 2016), stated:
The court added that funds are generally thought of as money, or often money for a specific purpose.
Freedom of Speech Includes Money
Most importantly, the Supreme Court has equated money with speech. For example, in the case Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), an annotation reads:
While the government can limit how much individuals contribute to political campaigns, it cannot place limits on campaign expenditures, expenditures by a candidate from personal resources, or independent expenditures by groups supporting the campaign. This is because the Court equated money with speech in this context, so the First Amendment applies.
Free speech is one of the most precious human rights. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are the pillars of democracy, and they are under the protection of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
On July 18, 2018, the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee met to determine to what extent the U.S. government should consider Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as money.
Controlling money is controlling speech. Therefore, if Bitcoin is money, it should not be controlled. In this regard, Alex Lemieux poses the question on The Republican Standard:
As Congress attempts to get a stranglehold on digital currency, people may ask that since money – especially in elections – is noted as a freedom of speech or expression, should cryptocurrency remain unregulated?
Do you agree that, like money, Bitcoin should also be equated with freedom of speech? Let us know in the comments below!
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