WASHINGTON — Siding with a little-time drug offender in Indiana whose $forty two,000 Land Rover was seized by law enforcement officials, the Supreme Court docket on Wednesday ruled that the Constitution locations limitations on civil forfeiture legal guidelines that allow for states and localities to consider and maintain non-public property utilized to commit crimes.
Civil forfeiture is a popular way to elevate earnings, and its use has been the subject of popular criticism throughout the political spectrum.
The SCOTUS has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the capability of the federal government to seize assets. On Wednesday, the courtroom dominated that the clause also applies to the states.
Formerly, the Supreme Court docket had not definitely dealt with that problem. It experienced resolved the status of the Excessive Fines Clause, but only in the context of the federal authorities.
The court docket had, nevertheless, beforehand dominated that most protections under the Monthly bill of Legal rights implement to the states — or ended up incorporated in opposition to them, in the legal jargon — less than the 14th Amendment.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for eight justices, stated the issue was an easy a single. “The historic and rational situation for concluding that the 14th Modification incorporates the Abnormal Fines Clause is overwhelming,” she wrote.
“For fantastic motive, the defense in opposition to abnormal fines has been a regular shield throughout Anglo-American historical past: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” she wrote. “Excessive fines can be utilised, for case in point, to retaliate from or chill the speech of political enemies.”
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