WASHINGTON, D.C. – Law enforcement agencies around the country, to national bodies like the FBI, to local police departments, for years have been abusing the practice of civil asset forfeiture. The confiscation of private property has been used to pad departments funding levels, throwing constitutional rights out of the window as they take cash and assets from people even if they aren’t charged with a crime.
Well, this week the Supreme Court of the United States issued a stern, unanimous ruling that such abuses are “out of control,” according to Justice Clarence Thomas, and must stop.
From the New York Times:
“The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Constitution places limits on the ability of states and localities to take and keep cash, cars, houses and other private property used to commit crimes. […]
In this case, the court sided with Tyson Timbs, a small-time drug offender in Indiana who pleaded guilty to selling $225 of heroin to undercover police officers. He was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $1,200 in fees and fines.
State officials also seized Mr. Timbs’s $42,000 Land Rover, which he had bought with the proceeds of his father’s life insurance policy, saying he had used it to commit crimes.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the ability of the federal government to seize property. On Wednesday, in a 9-to-0 decision that united justices on the left and right, the court ruled that the clause also applies to the states under the 14th Amendment, one of the post-Civil War amendments.[…]”
The decision will have major implications for how many law enforcement agencies operate. Too often, police departments leaned on this unconstitutional confiscation of property as a tried and true method to boost their own funding…by just taking it from people.
Excessive fines are too common place in a man areas of law enforcement. If only the Supreme Court could use this same logic in a case against another egregious private property asset confiscation program, and the biggest in the country – the progressive income tax system.
Read more about what this case means for law enforcement, and, more importantly, your individual rights, here.