Supreme Court Limits Police Powers to Seize Private Property

The Supreme Court dominated on Wednesday that the Constitution locations limits on the flexibility of states and localities to take and preserve money, vehicles, homes and different non-public property used to commit crimes.

The apply, often called civil forfeiture, is a well-liked means to increase income and is definitely abused, and it has been the topic of widespread criticism throughout the political spectrum. The court docket’s resolution will open the door to new authorized arguments when the worth of the property seized was out of proportion to the crimes concerned.

In this case, the court docket sided with Tyson Timbs, a small-time drug offender in Indiana who pleaded responsible to promoting $225 of heroin to undercover law enforcement officials. He was sentenced to one yr of home arrest and 5 years of probation, and was ordered to pay $1,200 in charges and fines.

State officers additionally seized Mr. Timbs’s $42,000 Land Rover, which he had purchased with the proceeds of his father’s life insurance coverage coverage, saying he had used it to commit crimes.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the potential of the federal authorities to seize property. On Wednesday, in a 9-to-0 decision that united justices on the left and proper, the court docket dominated that the clause additionally applies to the states below the 14th Amendment, one of many post-Civil War amendments.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for eight justices, mentioned the query earlier than the court docket was a straightforward one. “The historical and logical case for concluding that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming,” she wrote.

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