Different Dollar Standards

Notwithstanding the growing disparity in the purchasing power of the various kinds of dollars in circulation today, federal law continues to draw no legal distinction between specie and paper dollars. As the 5th Circuit recently observed, “a dollar is a dollar regardless of the physical embodiment of the currency.” Crummey v. Klien, 295 Fed.Appx. 625, 627 (5th Cir. 2008). Notably, the Crummey Court simply followed long-standing Supreme Court precedent:

A coin dollar is worth no more for the purposes of tender in payment of an ordinary debt than a note dollar. The law has not made the note a standard of value any more than coin. … The law knows no difference between them. Thompson v. Butler, 95 U.S. 694 (1877)

The anomaly created by the general government’s failure to maintain the equal purchasing power of each kind of currency, coupled with the absence of any legal distinction between them, provides planning opportunities for transacting parties to tender or accept the dollar type best suited to their respective economic interests.