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17:54, 21 June 2018

Bitcoin Tends to make Historic Initial Appearance in US Supreme Court Opinion

Bitcoin Tends to make Historic Initial Look in US Supreme Court Opinion

Supreme Court

Thursday marked a historic day for bitcoin, as the flagship cryptocurrency made its first look in an opinion published by the US Supreme Court.

The case, Wisconsin Central Ltd. v. United States, did not involve bitcoin&rsquos regulatory or legal status. Rather, it examined regardless of whether employee stock alternatives represent taxable compensation below the Railroad Retirement Tax Act of 1937.

That may appear like an unlikely spot for a discussion of bitcoin to appear, nonetheless, as justices noted in each the majority and dissenting opinions, the case forced them to take into account a fundamental question that has also taken on a renewed value in the decade following the publication of the Bitcoin whitepaper: &ldquoWhat is income?&rdquo

In the end, the 5-4 majority ruled that employees should not be taxed for working out stock options given that the action does not constitute &ldquomoney remuneration.&rdquo

Even so, writing in a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer argued for a &ldquobroader understanding of funds&rdquo and stated that stock possibilities must be classified as taxable compensation.

Breyer&rsquos opinion, which included a citation to&nbspFunds: The Unauthorized Biography &#8212 From Coinage to Cryptocurrencies, utilized bitcoin as an instance of the altering nature of cash and theorized that &ldquoperhaps one day personnel will be paid in Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency.&rdquo

He wrote (citations omitted):

&ldquoMoreover, what we view as income has changed over time. Cowrie shells when were such a medium but no longer are our currency originally incorporated gold coins and bullion, but, following 1934, gold could not be utilised as a medium of exchange maybe 1 day workers will be paid in Bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency. Nothing in the statute suggests the meaning of this provision should be trapped in a monetary time warp, forever restricted to these forms of money frequently used in the 1930&rsquos.&ldquo

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan joined Breyer in his dissent.

Whilst Thursday marked the very first instance of the word &ldquobitcoin&rdquo becoming included in a Supreme Court opinion, it&rsquos unlikely to be the final. In truth, cryptocurrency&rsquos perceived association with drug trafficking and other criminal activities could make a prominent appearance in a case whose petition is at present pending prior to the Court.

As CCN reported, Ross Ulbricht &#8212 operator of now-defunct dark net marketplace Silk Road &#8212 has appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, arguing that the government violated his Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights during the investigation and sentencing (he is serving a life sentence with out parole).

Although the Supreme Court has not however said regardless of whether it will hear Ulbricht&rsquos case, legal professional Tom Goldstein has said that there is a &ldquoreasonable possibility&rdquo that the constitutional inquiries raised by Ulbricht&rsquos petition would earn a hearing from the Court &ldquoin an proper case.&rdquo

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Published at Thu, 21 Jun 2018 16:39:03 +0000

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