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Supreme Court Rules Against Excessive State Fines


The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that states may not impose excessive fines, extending a bedrock constitutional protection but potentially jeopardizing asset-forfeiture programs that help fund police operations with property seized from criminal suspects.

"For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court. "Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies," she continued, citing examples from English history tracing to the Magna Carta.

More recently, the proliferation of fines has caught the attention of criminal-justice advocates, who contend they fall disproportionately on the poor and distort police priorities.

The opinion leaves open several questions regarding its ultimate impact, issues likely to percolate through lower courts as defendants challenge fines.
Mostly this impacts drug related property seizures.
Get busted for selling a joint, loose your car.

Will it impact cash seizures? I hope so.
My "favorite" story goes along these lines.
2 men get stopped for driving while black. Not their car, comes back to an organization; that they both "work" at, volunteer for.
Can the police search? Yes, no reason to hide. (wrong! never talk to the police)
Cops find cash, like 25,000. Is it theirs ? Well, no. It is the organizations.
Cops Seize it.
Cops suspect drug trade.
Prosecutor keeps it.

One man is a Pastor. Other is the Financial Director. Cash is for their mission, collected at their parent church thru typical small donations. They are on the way to deliver it.

This is not uncommon.
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The new USA... seems a pattern, saw on the news I was clicking bye. I think was Eugene no longer wants to charge late fees on children's books at libraries.
Because teaching them responsibility and accountability would be wrong.:confused:

To the OP reports, I think if you are in possession of sales you lose your stuff.
No if ands or butts. Yes the police state abuses like the bubbleguming plague the right to
confiscate stuff, sometimes way over the top.

Lesson :
  • So turning in books late or never is OK......meaning steal them tax payers will pay for them.
  • Drug dealers get to keep their crap after committing a crime.
  • Firearms owners can be locked up for selling a legal firearm to a legal owner for not filing a FFL background check.
  • Firearms owners, ( if laws pass) could be arrested for having two extra bullets in a magazine.
Supreme Court Rules that Excessive Fines Clause Applies to States and Constrains Civil Asset Forfeiture
Timbs v. Indiana. : Timbs v. Indiana.

"The Court did leave one crucial issue for future consideration by lower courts: the question of what exactly counts as "excessive" in the civil forfeiture context. That is likely to be a hotly contested issue in the lower federal courts over the next few years."

That article had a link to a great 2A article on McDonald vs Chicago:
McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010)

Maybe they will overturn some of these BS state 2A infringements.
Opinion analysis: Eighth Amendment's ban on excessive fines applies to the states - SCOTUSblog A link to the actual opinion is contained here as well as commentary.

Interestingly, authored by RBG:
Like the Eighth Amendment's proscriptions of "cruel and unusual punishment" and "[e]xcessive bail," the protection against excessive finesguards against abuses of government's punitive or criminal-law-enforcement authority. This safeguard, we hold, is "fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty," with "dee[p] roots in [our] history and tradition." McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 767 (2010)

This case reinforces McDonald, which of course held that the 2A applies to the states -- that's a good thing to reinforce. Like Heller, this decision takes a deep dive into English common law history and evaluates excessive fines back to the time of the Magna Carta. The majority opinion is based on the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment but in a concurring opinion, Thomas points out (and Gorsuch agreed with him) that the due process analysis doesn't really make sense (due process is being provided a fair hearing process and isn't really focused on whether the law itself is fair, which has led the court to do gymnastics to get at unfair laws this way). The more logical basis should have been based on the "privileges and immunities" clause of the 14A. Thomas wrote:

When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, "the terms 'privileges' and 'immunities' had an established meaning as synonyms for 'rights.' "... Those "rights" were the "inalienable rights" of citizens that had been "long recognized," and "the ratifying public understood the Privileges or Immunities Clause to protect constitutionally enumerated rights" against interference by the States.
Justice Story, writing a few decades before the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, ... included the prohibition on excessive fines as a right, along with the "right to bear arms" and others protected by the Bill of Rights, that "operates, as a qualification upon powers, actually granted by the people to the government"; without such a "restrict[ion]," the government's "exercise or abuse" of its power could be "dangerous to the people."

It would be nice to see every amendment in the BoR get some real respect.


14th Amendment: Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution - Wikipedia
... No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ...
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Our only real hope in reigning in gun control laws lays in the lap of the SCOTUS.

Increasingly states are implementing gun control, and so far nobody has really stopped them anywhere but in the SCOTUS. Just look at California.

Come 2020, there is a good chance that the left will take over not just all of Congress, but also the White House. If (or when) that happens, only the SCOTUS can protect us.
I've come to the same conclusion here in WA -- there is nothing the gun-banning crowd can't pass through Seattle via the initiative process. Some decent Supreme Court cases are sorely needed. Of course, if they come out wrong -- we're ____ed.

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