There’s very little worse that a government can do to its citizens than take their property without due process.
I suppose it could imprison you or kill you, but that’s about the whole list.
Yet Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with many well-trained and pedigreed lawyers, believe in the travesty called “civil asset forfeiture.”
In the realm of “law and order,” it makes sense that people’s ill-gotten gains should be removed from them and returned to their rightful owners. It makes sense that accused criminals should be prevented from leveraging the fruit of their crimes. But that ignores a basic principle of American jurisprudence: presumption of innocence.
Your property is your property, just like your liberty is your liberty until you are convicted of a crime. The reason accused criminals are placed in custody is to keep them from fleeing justice, but taking their property (and keeping it) is a violation of Americans’ constitutional and God-given rights, fraught with terrible abuses.
The Daily Signal (an arm of the Heritage Foundation) has documented some of these abuses over the years.
The motel owner in Massachusetts whose motel was seized by the DEA because guests had been arrested for drug crimes.
The numerous travelers whose cash and personal items have been seized at airports and train stations on mere suspicion.
Over 10 years, DEA agents deployed at 15 airports across the country have brought in $209 million in alleged drug funds, money that the DEA and its local agency partners spent with little oversight or accountability. But while agents generated a mountain of cash, they produced hardly any arrests, indictments, or convictions.
The list goes on and on, a parade of horribles, some on par with some of the injustices laid out against King George III in the Declaration of Independence.
The worst part of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ wholehearted endorsement of this awful practice is that it overrides states’ ability to limit it. And in March, the Supreme Court punted in its duty to defend the Constitution.
It seems that both major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, have abandoned liberty and property rights in favor of an all-powerful state. This is a shame, and a reason why it’s more important than ever to look outside those parties for a solution to our eroding liberty.