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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Days Numbered for Asset Forfeiture?

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I'm glad to hear that at least one Supreme Court justice can't believe that he is having to consider whether the Bill of Rights applies to state law enforcement:

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The court has formally held that most of the Bill of Rights applies to states as well as the federal government, but it has not done so on the Eighth Amendment's excessive-fines ban.

Justice Neil Gorsuch was incredulous that Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher was urging the justices to rule that states should not be held to the same standard.

"Here we are in 2018 still litigating incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Really? Come on, general," Gorsuch said to Fisher, using the term for holding that constitutional provisions apply to the states.

Justice Stephen Breyer said under Fisher's reading police could take the car of a driver caught going 5 mph (8 kph) above the speed limit.
The case, Timbs v. Indiana, concerns a man whose $40,000 Land Rover was confiscated when he was arrested for a $400 drug deal. After reading the article, I think the argument that the fine is excessive is a good one. Interested readers can read a post at the Institute for Justice for legal background, including a timeline of the case. The post reads in part:
The case shines a spotlight on the excessive fines and fees often imposed by governments, and showcases yet another example of the inevitable abuse of power that results when government employs civil forfeiture, a process through which police and prosecutors seize someone's property and keep the proceeds for themselves, thus giving law enforcement an incentive to maximize profits rather than seek the neutral administration of justice.

The case has attracted amicus briefs from a diverse coalition of groups calling on the Court to hold that the Excessive Fines Clause applies nationwide. These groups include the Cato Institute, American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, Constitutional Accountability Center, and Pacific Legal Foundation. All of the amicus briefs can be downloaded from the Supreme Court's website. [link in original]
We should know the Court's answer by June, according to the report.

-- CAV

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