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9-0: SCOTUS Delivers Devastating Decision To State Sponsored Seizure Schemes

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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.

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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.

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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.

Civil asset forfeiture reform is gaining traction nationwide. States like Arizona, Nebraska, and New Mexico have led the way in signing civil asset forfeiture reform into law.

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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Southern Baptist Convention Reverses Course on Name Change After BLP Reporting

They say they’re not changing their name.

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The Southern Baptist Convention has sought to dispel reporting from Big League Politics on the organization’s planned name change, arguing that the institution isn’t formally changing its name.

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But a close look at the American Christian church’s plans relating to its name reveal that it’s played with the idea far more seriously than they’re making it seem.

Reports of a name change first emerged in a Washington Post article published on Tuesday. SBC President JD Greear told the Post that “hundreds of churches” affiliated with the denomination had “committed” to using the phrase “Great Commission Baptist” as an alternative to the denomination’s longtime moniker. The change would come as Greear touts his support of the Black Lives Matter, although he’s been careful in pointing out he doesn’t support any formal organization related to the movement. Greear also is renaming the church he personally pastors with the term.

The SBC’s 2021 convention will also organize under the motto of “We Are Great Commission Baptists.” Sounds a lot like a name change, even if the SBC’s leadership is steadfastly maintaining it isn’t.

The name ‘Great Commission Baptist’ is theologically sound in the Christian religion, but it’s somewhat questionable that the organization’s leader appears to be emphasizing it at a moment in which political correctness is making its entryism into many Christian churches and organizations.

It seems as if the organization’s figurehead is keen to present himself as a liberal-style suburban Evangelical to the Washington Post, but he changed his tune quite quickly when the rank and file membership of Southern Baptist churches learned that he was promoting the idea of a name change.

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