— Michael Clayton —
In an unexpected move Tuesday, the U.S. House voted to rein in Attorney General Jeff Sessions expansion of the unconstitutional law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture.
Earlier this year, Sessions expanded the Federal Equitable Sharing program which allows state and local law enforcement to skirt state and local laws regarding civil asset forfeiture, as long as they return a portion to the federal government first. It’s a gross violation of your Fifth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, and it’s a slap in the face to state and local legislatures that have recently made huge strides toward eliminating the practice, no thanks to Jeff Sessions.
The bipartisan amendment passed as part of the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act and was sponsored by liberty warrior Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) and his good friends from the House Freedom Caucus Congressmen Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Raul Labrador (R-ID), among others.
From the House floor, Congressman Amash called civil asset forfeiture “an unconstitutional practice that is used to violate the due process rights of innocent people.”
The sharp rebuke of sitting Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a welcome sign to liberty lovers and freedom advocates everywhere who simply won’t accept government theft from innocent property owners.
Civil asset forfeiture has existed in our country for quite some time, but really got ramped up during the War on Drugs in the early 1980’s. Proponents of the practice see it as a useful tool to cripple criminal organizations and illegal drug trade, while they also argue that it saves law enforcement money by using stolen goods instead of purchasing them.
But besides the gross unconstitutionality of civil asset forfeiture, the idea that law enforcement is using it to only target criminal organizations and drug traffickers is simply false. Just check out all of the cases the Institute for Justice has taken on where regular, everyday people simply get robbed by law enforcement. And most of them are still trying desperately to get their property back.
Civil asset forfeiture is government overreach at its worst – and it needs to be ended completely. America’s Liberty PAC applauds Congressmen Amash, Sanford, Labrador, and others, for taking a stand against government theft from innocent Americans.
While this amendment reverses Attorney General Jeff Session’s expansion of civil asset forfeiture from earlier this year, we must take further steps to eliminate the practice completely. Senator Rand Paul’s Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, S. 642, would be the biggest reform of civil asset forfeiture in decades, and Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) has introduced companion legislation in the House, H.R. 1555.