Unanimous Supreme Court Limits State Power to Levy Fines, Seize Property, Abuse Asset Forfeiture Laws |

Posted: February 20, 2019 by gamegetterII in Uncategorized

“WASHINGTON, DC — In a unanimous ruling that is expected to curb attempts by local and state governments to increase their revenue by seizing private property using excessive, arbitrary asset forfeiture laws, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Timbs v. State of Indiana that state governments must abide by the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on the imposition of “excessive fines” for criminal offenses.

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute had filed an amicus brief in Timbs, challenging the power of states to engage in abusive “policing for profit” tactics and asking that SCOTUS overturn a ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court, which found that the Eighth Amendment did not prohibit the state from seizing a vehicle worth $42,000 as a penalty for selling four grams of heroin. Lower courts had found the seizure to be “grossly disproportionate” to the offense. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the Court.

Attorneys D. Alicia Hickok, Mark Taticchi, S. Vance Wittie, and Matthew C. Sapp of Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP assisted the Institute in presenting the arguments in Timbs.

“Let’s not mince words: civil asset forfeiture laws give police the green light to rob, pilfer, steal, thieve, swipe, purloin, filch and liberate American taxpayers of even more of their hard-earned valuables (especially if it happens to be significant amounts of cash) using any means, fair or foul,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Hopefully, this ruling will remove the profit incentives associated with asset forfeiture schemes that allow state governments and police to pad their pockets by engaging in what has become a modern-day form of highway robbery.”

Read more @ The Rutherford Institute here

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