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Legal Features

The Rutherford Institute’s amicus brief in Timbs v. State of Indiana

Taking aim at excessive, arbitrary asset forfeiture laws, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hold that state governments must abide by the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on the imposition of “excessive fines” for criminal offenses. Challenging the power of states to engage in abusive “policing for profit” tactics, Rutherford Institute attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court inTimbs v. State of Indiana, which found that the Eighth Amendment did not prohibit the state from seizing a vehicle worth $42,000 as a penalty for selling four grams of heroin. Lower courts had found the seizure to be “grossly disproportionate” to the offense.

“Let’s not mince words: civil asset forfeiture laws give police the green light to rob, pilfer, steal, thieve, swipe, purloin, filch and liberate American taxpayers of even more of their hard-earned valuables (especially if it happens to be significant amounts of cash) using any means, fair or foul,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “This is just a modern-day form of highway robbery. If the state or federal government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under civil asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.”


September 12, 2018 • Rutherford Institute Challenges Abusive Asset Forfeiture Laws, Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Declare Excessive, Arbitrary Fines Unconstitutional


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