The Supreme Court has just put the clamps on states’ ability to impose excessive fines and use civil asset forfeiture to seize private property.
On Wednesday February 20, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the Eight Amendment’s ban on excessive fines also applies to states. This landmark ruling bolsters property rights and could curtail controversial law enforcement seizures, especially those carried out via civil forfeiture.
In the decision, Timbs v. Indiana, the Supreme Court sided with small time drug offender Tyson Timbs, whose $42,000 Land Rover was seized by law enforcement officials. Civil asset forfeiture is one of the most controversial methods used to raise revenue across the nation. However, it has garnered considerable criticism from political figures across the political spectrum.
In a previous case, Austin v. United States, the Court ruled that the Eight Amendment, which is clear about its prohibition of “excessive fines”, limits the federal government’s ability to seize property. Timbs v. Indiana now extends those limits to the states.
For once, Justice Ruth Ginsburg gets it right. She wrote:
“The historical and logical case for concluding that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming.”
Ginsburg drew from Anglo-American legal traditions to rule in Timbs’s favor:
“For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties.”
She also presciently noted the potential abuse that excessive fines engender:
“Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies.”
If only she applied such reasoning to other cases where she has let judicial activism get the best of her…
Anyways, this decision is a welcome development for criminal justice.
Now, the North Dakota Legislative Assembly is considering a bill, HB 1286, which requires that a criminal conviction be obtained before any forfeiture is carried out, and then mandates that proceeds from the seizure go to a general or school fund instead of going directly to a police department’s budget. This bill would also close the “equitable sharing” loophole, which allows law enforcement agencies to bypass strict state forfeiture laws by passing these cases off to the feds.
In times of high political polarization it’s great to see the Supreme Court come to a unanimous decision on civil asset forfeiture. This is one issue that should unite people from all sides of the political aisle.
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Leading Doctor in Canada Tells Canadian to be Prepared to Stay Inside for Three Months
A leading doctor from Toronto says that residents will likely have to stay at home and only go outside “for the most essential of needs” for the next 12 weeks in light of the increasing number of Wuhan Virus cases that has put city on the ropes.
Dr. Eileen de Villa made this announcement on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 as she gave broad recommendations to help contain the spread of the Wuhan Virus.
De Villa is advising “in the strongest possible terms” that all Torontonians stay at home, with the exception of medical appointments, to go grocery shopping no more than once weekly or to walk their dogs or get exercise.
“This is not a favourable trajectory and as your medical officer of health I am deeply concerned,” de Villa continued. “I realize I depict a very stark picture here. A very stark picture but is one that is honest and true. Given this is our current situation it is my belief that we must absolutely implement stronger measures to avoid the type of results we are seeing in places like New York City.”
Toronto previously revoked permits for all major events and festivals until June 30.
At a news conference on April 1, 2020, Toronto Mayor John Tory declared that the number of Wuhan Virus cases in the city are going in “the wrong direction” and it is now “absolutely clear that this is going to be a very long battle.”
“I believe most people want this over as soon as possible and if given the choice they will do what it takes to end this situation at the earliest possible date which being candid likely does mean the 12 weeks referred to by Dr. de Villa,” he stated. “You want to go and visit and give a hug to your mother or grandmother as soon as you can, you want to go to a restaurant and sit on the patio and have a beer, you want to watch your kids once again able to play on a playground without restriction and you want to go to a Blue Jays game or hang out on the beach with friends but getting to those better days will depend on our collective response as a city. We have it in our control to make those better days come sooner.”
Canada shows why Americans should be proud of their civil liberties.
The type of lockdown Canada is pursuing only happens in the most leftist of states in America, but it is not the norm.
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