Friday, August 21, 2009

Liberty Quote Of The Day: Justice Stephen J. Field - Part II

Yesterday we mentioned that 19th century supreme court Justice Stephen Field has become one of our new monetary heroes. To partly explain why we'd elevated him to such a status, we provided you with Part I in our two part series on Field's dissents during decisions from the Supreme Court that helped legitimize non-asset backed paper currency within the United States. Today, we bring you Part II. This is a collection of statements from Field's dissent in Knox v. Lee, which overturned Hepburn v. Griswold and upheld Lincoln's efforts to debase the money (in fact, Field refused to refer to paper currency as itself "money" and instead only referred to the assets (i.e. gold) that should back a currency as money).

"The statesmen who framed the Constitution ... had seen in the experience of the Revolutionary period the demoralizing tendency, the cruel injustice, and the intolerable oppression of a paper currency not convertible on demand into money, and forced into circulation by legal tender provisions and penal enactments.
"There are unchangeable principles of right and morality, without which society would be impossible, and men would be but wild beasts preying upon each other, so there are fundamental principles of eternal justice, upon the existence of which all constitutional government is founded, and without which government would be an intolerable and hateful tyranny.
"Whenever the fulfillment of the obligation in the manner stipulated is refused, and acceptance of something different from that stipulated is enforced against the will of the creditor, a breach of faith is committed; and to the extent of the difference of the value between the thing stipulated and the thing which the creditor is compelled to receive, there is repudiation of the original obligation. I am not willing to admit that the Constitution, the boast and glory of our country, would sanction or permit any such legislation. Repudiation in any form, or to any extent, would be dishonor, and for the commission of this public crime no warrant, in my judgment, can ever be found in that instrument."
- Justice Stephen J. Field
The man brings it hot and heavy. It's hard to argue with logic though.