When I first read that the Utah Legislature had authorized gold and silver coins as legal tender, my first through was “Hey! The Constitution prohibits states from issuing their own currency! They can’t do that!”
Actually, they can. Section 10, Article I of the US Constitution states (bolding mine):
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
So states can make gold and silver legal tender. Whether this is a good idea remains to be seen, but it is a legal idea.
Although this post is not formally part of the “Constitution Monday” series, I’ve tagged it as such because it quotes the Constitution and shows the need for Constitutional literacy even among those of us who think they know it.
Gold, silver coins to be legal currency in Utah. Missoulian. May 22, 2011 – http://missoulian.com/news/national/article_4c50526b-ee5e-5f31-86e0-ef3b2a60dc20.html
Transcript of US Constitution from National Archives – http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html