Baltimore Test Case Update: ACCG allies join the appeal
by Peter Tompa
Six different collector, educational and trade groups have requested leave from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to file three separate amicus briefs in support of the ACCG's efforts to overturn the dismissal of its case to test import regulations on ancient coins. See http://www.accg.us/News/Item/Organizations_submit_Amici_Briefs_to_Appellate
Each brief focuses on the failure of the District Court to apply the plain meaning of the CPIA's limitation on import restrictions to coins "first discovered within, and  subject to the export control by" either Cyprus or China.
The organizations filing jointly or separately are:
American Committee for Cultural Policy (ACCP) / International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA) by Richard Rogers, Esq.;
International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN) / American Numismatic Association (ANA) / Ancient Coins for Education (ACE) by Michael McCullough, Esq.; and
Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) by Armen Vartian, Esq.
The ACCG's leadership in contesting US import restrictions on ancient artifacts (including but not limited to ancient coins) has now been recognized by these six collector, educational and trade groups who have decided that they also have something important at stake in this legal contest.
This lawsuit, like all other ACCG activities on behalf of US collectors of ancient artifacts including coins, is about much more than the right to import and collect historical coins freely. It is also about the right to lawfully import and collect all ancient artifacts freely, to privately study and perform research upon these artifacts and to contribute to the published literature on the subject, to teach others who have an interest in the subject, and to pursue an interest in ancient history and classical studies through these socially beneficial activities.
The manner in which the 1983 CCPIA, which is the legal foundation for implementing US accession to the 1970 UNESCO Convention, is being administered by the State Department's Cultural Heritage Center is the central issue in this legal dispute. The process established by the CCPIA requires that before import restrictions may be imposed, an investigation by a panel of experts, chosen so as to fairly represent the interests of all concerned citizens, shall be conducted to determine whether the requested restrictions are both necessary and justified.
Over the years, antiquities experts and legal experts have observed that the manner in which the bureaucracy of the Cultural Heritage Center has administered the CPAC process (which Congress had intended would make a fair, objective assessment of these issues) has become a ritualistic sham, leading to results that are predetermined in secret collusive discussions with archaeologists and the requesting nation. Only then does the publicly visible process begin, with submission of a formal request.
In this case the ACCG seeks to force disclosures that, if subjected to the full glare of open public scrutiny, would conclusively prove these disturbing truths:
1) The State Department's Cultural Heritage Center has become a political resource for US archaeologists to pursue their goals in managing professional relations with foreign nations;
2) Foreign nations manipulate US archaeologists by conditioning permission to excavate upon obtaining US agreement to embargo importation of antiquities;
3) Details of MOUs are worked out in advance of the formal submission of requests from foreign nations desiring these agreements, in behind-the-scenes negotiations between the nations involved, US archaeologists and the State Department's Cultural Heritage Center;
4) The CPAC process - including public hearings, recommendations to the President's delegated designee at the Department of State, and verification that specific statutory criteria are met - is a dishonest and dishonorable sham. No facts are actually being found. No verification of specific statutory criteria is actually being carried out. The CPAC process produces recommendations predetermined by arrangements secretly made before the process even begins. It has evolved into a "show trial" whose purpose is to deceive Congress and the American people into believing that the Cultural Heritage Center bureaucracy is managing US compliance with the 1970 UNESCO Convention in a manner that safeguards the public interest.
The State Department has fought disclosure of what is actually taking place to the limit of its ability. Their grounds for refusing to disclose what actually happens behind the scenes is that these details must be kept secret to protect US national interests. In reality, they must be kept secret to protect the interests and careers of those bureaucrats involved, whose ideologically motivated collusion with the narrow interests of US archaeologists and foreign cultural officials cannot stand the light of day. The ACCG and its allies seek nothing more than an open and fair process, as originally intended by Congress, in which the American people can see for themselves what is happening and can believe that everyone's interests are being fairly and equitably considered.