Tuesday 9 August 2011

Reactions to the Baltimore Illegal Coin Import Stunt Case Decision

The news that a decision had been reached in the ACCG Baltimore Illegal Coin Import Stunt Case seems to have reached Peter Tompa yesterday (Monday) morning. The news went up on the ACCG website yesterday at an unspecified time: "Decision Released in Baltimore Litigation ACCG website, 8th August 2011.

Dave Welsh was one of the first to write at length about it with his usual fire-and-brimstone approach (no mention of stringing people up this time) at 12:16 AM PT: He calls it "A Disastrous Legal Decision". Since this is the only comment so far which looks to the future, I would like to discuss some of the things he suggests in a later post.

Peter Tompa on his own Cultural Property Observer blog writes at 5:19 AM: "Not for Me to Decide...", referring to the District Court's judge's assessment that she has not the authority to judge the President of the USA.

Then it was Rick St Hilaire's turn at 1:01 AM EST: "Judge Dismisses ACCG Challenge to Cultural Property Import Protections - Acknowledges President's Foreign Policy Role in MoU Process". he notes three important points about the decision.

David Gill has a short note: Baltimore Test Case Rejected

I wrote a piece between trying to plough through the 52 pages of the Judge's decision (not there yet) and a rather nice bottle of red which I'd opened to celebrate.

Wayne Sayles, who we may suspect was in fact the main instigator of the whole action, has a surprisingly magnanimous approach to the whole affair, at 11:31 AM EST: "The Morning After"

Then Peter Tompa again: "Legal Times Blog About ACCG Decision" about a blog by Zoe Tillmann "Coin Collectors' Guild Loses Bid to Import 1,000-Year-Old Coins"
Blake dismissed claims brought under the Administrative Procedure Act, writing that decisions made pursuant to presidential authority weren’t subject to judicial review. Regarding whether the State Department exceeded its authority, Blake found that the law put the burden on the importer to prove the artifacts are legitimate, “and prohibits the importation of those objects if they cannot meet that burden.

The guild also argued that the restrictions amounted to a violation of the First Amendment because the inscriptions and motifs on the coins are “information or speech” and convey content [which has got to be one of the stupidest justifications for no-questions-asked collecting on the planet - PMB]. Blake disagreed. “Even if ancient coins convey information about ancient societies, the government’s interest in combating the pillage of archaeological materials is unrelated to the suppression of the flow of that information,” she wrote.

I'm interested to see what Kimberley Alderman ("Cultural Property Law Deathmatch: The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild v. The State Department" - "it's the equivalent of cultural property lawyer porn"), Derek Fincham, and a few others will make of it.

Vignette: Nice bottle of Italian red to celebrate.

UPDATE: Kimberley adds her comments: Ancient Coin Import Restriction Test Case Dismissed "While the precise basis for the dismissal is a little different than what I had explored, it arises out of the same problem with this particular test case. The Plaintiffs weren’t just asking for a limited decision about a specific seizure; they were looking for a broader decision about coin import restrictions. The Court determined it didn’t have the authority to issue one". So how much did making the gesture of submitting a useless complaint cost US collectors and dealers who donated the coins for the "benefit auctions"?

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