Feds Appeal Ruling that Would Force Changes to U.S. Currency

The Bush administration on Tuesday asked an appeals court to overturn a ruling that would require a redesign of the nation's currency to help the blind.

The appeal was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by Justice Department lawyers on behalf of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The appeal seeks to overturn a ruling last month by U.S. District Judge James Robertson who ordered Treasury to come up with ways for the blind to tell the difference between different denominations of paper currency.

Robertson had ruled in a lawsuit brought by the American Council of the Blind, which had proposed several options to the government from printing different size bills or changing the texture of the bills by adding embossed dots or foil.

In his November ruling, Robertson said that of 180 countries issuing paper currency, only the United States printed bills that were identical in size and color in all their denominations.

He said the current practice violates the Rehabilitation Act, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in government programs.

In the government's appeal, Justice Department lawyers argued that visually impaired individuals were not denied "meaningful access" by the way the nation's currency is designed.

The government lawyers noted the existence of portable reading devices that the blind could use to determine the denomination of paper money. The government said the blind could also make use of credit cards rather than currency.