On July 19th, the Trump DOJ, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced an expansion of Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF) laws.
CAF is the questionable practice of law enforcement confiscating cash and other assets from suspects involved in illegal drug activities. In states where CAF is already the law of the land, many suspects never recoup their assets from the government, even if they are never charged criminally, or if they are charged and found innocent. In other cases, folks become entangled in lengthy and expensive court battles with the government to take their assets back.
In a famous, albeit extreme example of CAF in practice, a Philadelphia husband and wife had their home seized when their son was accused of selling drugs. He had been arrested with $40 worth of heroin previously, but had never been charged with trafficking the high-powered substance.
About 90 days after the arrest, the police showed up at the home, threw the family out on the street, shackled the doors, and had the electric company shut off the power. There was no arrest, no criminal charge, no courtroom hearing – just a lawsuit against the very house itself.
After eight days, the city let the family back in on the condition that they kick their son out permanently. Imagine being manhandled this way by the government? It sounds like something that would happen in the third world, not to an average middle class family in America, where innocence is assumed until guilt is proven.
But that’s the premise behind CAF. In most cases, the burden is on the victim of the lost assets to prove innocence before they’re entitled to retrieve their property.
According to the same article, the Philly police have filed about 7,000 CAF petitions in the last year alone. In the last facade, they’ve confiscated $64 million in property and cash, and have used at least $7 million of that money to directly pay officers’ salaries. Most would call that a serious conflict of interest.
Another case of CAF involved a 22 year old moving from Michigan to Los Angeles with the hopes of becoming a producer. He carried his $16,000 savings in cash. Upon a pit stop in Albuquerque, he was approached by DEA agents, questioning him as to why he was carrying so much cash to Los Angeles, which they called a “drug hotspot.” Without being charged with a crime, the police confiscated the young man’s money. Now he’s paying a lawyer to fight the DEA.
CAF calls into question our 5th amendment right to due process, as well as our most basic right to own property. The Philadelphia family who had their home confiscated did not receive an inkling of due process through the entire process. They were deprived of their property without criminal charges, convictions, or a trial by a jury of their peers.
Conservatives are denouncing CAF laws as unconstitutional. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the top conservative figure in the judiciary, seems to agree. Recently in the case of Leonard v Texas, Justice Thomas said that CAF has “led to egregious and well-documented abuses” by law enforcement. In legalese he affirmed the sentiment, saying that the practice doesn’t align with the constitution because it “presumably would require the [Supreme Court] to align its distinct doctrine governing civil forfeiture with its doctrines governing other forms of punitive state action and property deprivation.” Basically, he’s saying that there are no other laws that allow for the confiscation of property without due process, and thereby CAF doesn’t align with laws that are already in place that protect Americans from having their property confiscated in this manner.
This matter is parallel with an issue that was in the forefront towards the end of the Obama presidency. Democrat Senators introduced “No Fly, No Buy” legislation that would have prevented those on the “No-Fly” list to purchase firearms. The bill was rejected by House Republicans on the grounds that the list is often inaccurate, sometimes including people who aren’t suspected of terrorism at all. Rather, some end up on the list due to clerical errors, like an 18 month old girl who was removed from a JetBlue flight in 2012 after being mistakenly put on the list.
President Obama, for his part, chimed in on the issue.
He said in a speech, “Right now, people on the no-fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane.”
Here’s the thing: that’s not an insane premise. It would be insane to believe that the government has the right to usurp the property of its citizens without due process of law. It’s the same principle that makes CAF unconstitutional.
Overall, President Trump has done a fantastic job thus far. In the face of great adversity, he’s delivered on many of his campaign promises, and seems intent on continuing to do so. This move, however is a blunder.
The DOJ has much more pressing issues, including removing illegal aliens from and securing our borders. The government contends that CAF laws slow down the drug trade by seizing cash and other assets that may help criminal organizations like Mexican cartels stay afloat. Wouldn’t building a wall accomplish the same goal – with many more positive externalities – and without the hassle of a legal battle?
I’m looking forward to the Trump administration backtracking a bit to get this one right.
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VIDEO: Nancy Pelosi Thinks The Wall Is A ‘Luxury’? She Can’t Even Keep Her Own Party Behind Her!
Democrat House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s insistence on a border wall is a luxury the country can no longer afford.
Pelosi is having a very difficult time during this government shutdown, as I explain:
Here are some reasons Nancy Pelosi is struggling:
- The Democrat “Problem Solvers Caucus” met with President Trump without her
The Democrat problem solvers left the door open to “common ground” but still requested that the government re-open before that common ground can be discovered.
Here are what the Democrat problem solvers said about the meeting. The Democrat problem solvers include “Josh Gottheimer, Thomas Suozzi, Vincente Gonzalez, Anthony Brindisi, Dean Phillips, Max Rose, and Abigail Spanberger,” but no Pelosi.
“Over the last weeks, we have been listening to our constituents and speaking with our fellow Members of Congress — in both parties and in both chambers. There is strong agreement across the aisle and around the country: We must reopen the government. Our security, safety, and economy have been compromised, and millions of families are suffering,” the Democrat problem solvers stated.
“There is also strong agreement that if we reopen the government, the possibility exists to work together and find common ground to tackle some of our country’s toughest problems and fix them. But that conversation can only begin in earnest once the government is reopened. We accepted the White House’s invitation to meet today to convey that message,” the Democrat problem solvers said.
2. Democrats keep saying good things about the Wall, without saying the word “Wall”
Democrat congressman Hakeem Jeffries said on the House floor that Democrats “are prepared to have a conversation about infrastructure on the border” and “a conversation about our broken immigration system.”
Jeffries is the latest Democrat to suggest open-mindedness on compromise so long as Democrats can use a different term than “Wall.”
Jeffries said that Democrats are not prepared to have these conversations during President Trump’s supposedly vindictive government shutdown, but they might have no choice.
California Democrat Katie Hill went on Fox News to talk about Democrat openness to “physical barriers,” and Rep. Cheri Bustos expressed openness to a “partial Wall.”
3. Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got onto the House Financial Services Committee
Here are Ocasio-Cortez’s stated objectives for her tenure on the committee: “Personally, I’m looking forward to digging into the student loan crisis, examining for-profit prisons/ICE detention, and exploring the development of public & postal banking. To start.”
4. Pelosi is still haunted by her ignoring of the Angel families who visited her office
Shame on Nancy Pelosi!
She HID behind HER WALL and REFUSED to meet with the ANGEL MOMS we brought to her today!
EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW SHE’S A DAMN COWARD! pic.twitter.com/s61ekhGE0g
— The Deplorable Choir⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@DeplorableChoir) January 15, 2019
5. President Trump guaranteed back pay to furloughed workers, shifting blame for the shutdown to Democrats
President Trump signed the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019.
With the workers assured pay, the Democrats are squarely in the center of attention. The government can only be re-opened with their commitment to funding the border wall.
Now, every day that the shutdown drags on and workers don’t get paid can be perceived to be the fault of Democrats. If Democrats fund the border wall, then the workers can get paid again.
6. Her plot to postpone the State of the Union by blocking Trump from the House floor was ridiculed
Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen thanked the Secret Service and her own agency, DHS, for their commitment to secure the State of the Union address to be delivered by President Donald Trump.
“The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union,” stated Nielsen.
Democrat House speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing to postpone Trump’s State of the Union, citing supposed security deficiencies caused by the government shutdown.
But the Secret Service, as always, is prepared to serve with honor.
Democrats are running out of tactics to apply pressure on President Donald Trump to end the government shutdown without a Wall.
7. Chuck Schumer Did Not Have An Inspiring Press Conference Outside the Capitol
Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats held up posters of furloughed government workers outside the Capitol Wednesday.
Republicans including Rep. Mo Brooks and Louie Gohmert have already shown photos of the victims of illegal alien crime on the House floor, including a 13-year old girl who was beheaded by an illegal alien.
Schumer’s statement ignores those victims of illegal alien crime. Now that President Trump has signed the back pay bill, the blame for the shutdown shifts to Democrats, who keep workers from getting their paychecks through their refusal to fund the southern border Wall. Schumer held up a poster of a man with a heart ailment, but did not address the Angel families who arrived at Nancy Pelosi’s office this week while Pelosi ignored them.
“Open the government,” some of the Democrats briefly chanted.
Chuck Schumer: "I want President Trump to look into these faces and see what he is doing by using these men and women as pawns, using them in an extortion game to say I am going to hurt these people unless I get my way. Mr. President." https://t.co/Onj5jFK9Nr pic.twitter.com/7MyTMWhaUF
— The Hill (@thehill) January 16, 2019
8. President Trump refuses to back down
“We’re going to stay out for a long time, if we have to. We’ll be out for a long time,” President Trump said on a conference call with some of his supporters.
“People are very impressed with how well government is working with the circumstances that we’re under,” the president stated on the call.
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