The Supreme Court unanimously declared that states could not steal your car

OOn Wednesday, the Supreme Court unanimously declared that it is unconstitutional for states to steal cars. This is a major step forward in cracking down on the confiscation of civilian assets and the practice of states and cities seizing personal property to raise funds.

The decision is a victory for Tyson Timbs, an Indiana man who had fought against the state to recover his Land Rover SUV worth $ 42,000 after the accident. to have seized during his arrest. He had bought the vehicle with the proceeds of an insurance policy he had received after the death of his father.

Nevertheless, the state felt that his guilty plea for selling a few hundred dollars of heroin to undercover police officers had entitled them to the vehicle on the grounds that he used it to carry drugs. As explained by the Supreme Court, however, the confiscation of the vehicle amounted to "more than four times the maximum fine of $ 10,000 taxable against Timbs for his conviction." for drugs ".

This, in every respect, is excessive. So much so that it amounts to a theft.

Indeed, no court contested the fact that the seizure of the vehicle amounted to an excessive fine. Instead, the Supreme Court of Indiana justified the seizure of the vehicle by the state on the grounds that the protection of the Eighth Amendment against excessive fines did not apply to the states.

The US Supreme Court disagreed that the protections provided for in the eighth amendment, including the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, excessive bail, protections against excessive fines and other violations by the government, are all "fundamental to our system of orderly freedom" to follow them under the fourteenth amendment.

There was however a slight disagreement on the part of the amendment that binds states. The majority opinion, written by Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was based on the due process clause. Judges Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch agreed, but conceded that they would have relied on the Fourteenth Amendment Privileges and Immunities Clause rather than on due process.

All agreed, however, that protections against seizures of property amounting to excessive fines had a long history. The Court traced this story to Magna Carta and, in the United States, to the Virginia Bill of Rights. The eighth amendment of the Bill of Rights is the modern incarnation of these secular rights.

After all, it is impossible for a system supposed to protect rights and uphold justice to allow an arrest or conviction to become a license for the government to take whatever it wants from an individual.

This makes the decision an important victory for criminal justice reform. We hope this will prevent states and cities from abusing their power to seize property beyond what a court has ordered, thereby protecting the rights of individuals across the country.

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