When the editorial board at USA Today is on your side, it might be that your line of thinking is out of whack.
But in this case, the left-leaning USA Today editors have seen the light on civil asset forfeiture.
In America you’re innocent until proven guilty, and the Constitution provides protections — for instance, the right to a lawyer and a speedy trial — to ensure that you can’t be unfairly punished.
But you can forget all that if state or local police “suspect” that your cash, car or even your home might have somehow been involved in a crime. In that case, they can grab the loot and keep most of it to benefit their own departments without going to court.
You can try to get your property back, but the burden is on the victim of a seizure to prove that the money was not derived from a crime.
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions put civil asset forfeiture back in the spotlight following several years of the federal government backing off, he went against not only what America’s Liberty Committee believes, but also that of 14 states which require a conviction before seizing someone’s assets and several others have already put restrictions in place on civil asset forfeiture.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said just several months ago that civil asset forfeiture “has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses,” and that seizures “frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests.”
So on top of going against a nationwide newspaper, more and more states, and a respected Supreme Court justice, Attorney General Sessions is also going against the will of the American people on this issue.
According to the poll,
84% oppose civil asset forfeiture: Americans oppose police seizing “a person’s money or property that is suspected to have been involved in a drug crime before the person is convicted.” When police departments seize people’s property, 76% say the local department should not keep the assets. Instead Americans think seized assets should go either to the state general fund (48%) or a state-level law enforcement fund (28%). A quarter (24%) say police departments should keep the property they seize.
And that highlights just one of the many problems with civil asset forfeiture: local police departments use civil asset forfeiture as a slush fund.
America’s Liberty PAC will fight Attorney General Sessions’ decision to put more federal muscle behind civil asset forfeiture by challenging his decision and by pushing Sen. Rand Paul’s Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act through the Congress.
As Senator Paul wrote in an op-ed piece just last week:
Civil forfeiture must be reined in, which is why I led my colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the Department of Justice asking for Attorney General Sessions to rescind its expanded use. Additionally, earlier this year, I introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (“FAIR”) Act. This bill would restore the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” and would require the government to bear the burden of proof that a property owner knew his property was used in criminal activity before it could be confiscated. It would remove the profit incentive of civil forfeiture and restore the motivation to law enforcement of public safety, not financial rewards.
Join America’s Liberty PAC and millions of other patriotic Americans who demand this unconstitutional practice be abandoned and not expanded. Click here to support our efforts.
– John McCardell