As one of the world’s most lauded outlines of basic human freedoms and prolific examples of consensus-enforced governing, the US Constitution is often pointed to as a spiritual predecessor of the freedoms and equity promised by Bitcoin.
Emphasizing and challenging these parallels, Georgetown University Law Professor Neal Katyal and Justin Wales, the head of legal for North America at bitcoin exchange Crypto.com, addressed Bitcoin 2022 attendees in a discussion titled “The US Constitution And Bitcoin.”
“I love Bitcoin, I love all you and you guys see something really important and I want to help tell your story,” Katyal told the crowd. “I don’t think that right now Washington… has a handle on how important these technologies [like Bitcoin] are to our economy, to our national security.”
Wales pressed Katyal on whether or not there is a constitutional case to be made for the fundamental right to commit bitcoin transactions. While Katyal acknowledged that using Bitcoin has some overlap with free speech rights, he clarified that he does not think there’s a strong constitutional case to be made there.
“At its core, I view Bitcoin as a democratic tool,” Wales explained at one point, adding context to the questions he was posing for Katyal. “It says we, as a community, want to opt out of a system that is governed completely by a federal fiat monetary system.”
But, while Katyal seemed to agree that the power to transact outside of the fiat monetary rails is a critical freedom granted by Bitcoin, he indicated that Bitcoiners are unlikely to convince Constitutional courts that the space should be free from regulation.
“I think it’s gonna be hard to say that bitcoin transactions are protected by the first amendment [of the Constitution],” Katyal said. “My central message to everyone today is I think we need to be telling the story for why some regulation in the space is OK. Because if we don’t … I think that’s an unlikely winner.”
Bitcoin 2022 is part of the Bitcoin Event Series hosted by BTC Inc, the parent company of Bitcoin Magazine.