A ruling issued by the US Supreme Court just made a reference to Bitcoin.
Last June 21, The US Supreme Court issued their ruling on the lawsuit Wisconsin Central Ltd. v. the United States. The suit is about whether or not worker stock options are taxable as a kind of “compensation” in the same way that money is.
Ballotpedia revealed that subsidiaries of the Canadian National Railway Company lost their initial foray into court, with both a district and appellate court ruling that stock options are taxable under the U.S. Tax Act.
However, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling, saying that stocks do not count as money and that the case should be “remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion,” the majority opinion said.
Justice Stephen Breyer, along with Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, dissented, arguing that the nature of what constitutes money has changed over time.
In his dissent, Breyer wrote that:
“Moreover, what we view as money has changed over time. Cowrie shells once were such a medium but no longer are … our currency originally included gold coins and bullion, but, after 1934, gold could not be used as a medium of exchange… [P]erhaps one day employees will be paid in bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency.”
The opinion raises a very important question: what are the implications of this?
While the court case had nothing to do with cryptocurrencies. the reference may signal that at the very least some of the members of the Supreme Court may be sympathetic to the idea that cryptocurrency is a kind of money, as opposed to a form of property, or commodity.
It is probably too early to say what impact such a reference will have, but it isn’t impossible that further questions about the fundamental nature of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may one day find themselves in front of the Supreme Court.