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The Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously last week that the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause is a protection applicable to the states under the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.
To discuss the significance of this case, and what it means for the practice of civil asset forfeiture, Americans for Prosperity’s David Barnes sat down with Vikrant Reddy of the Charles Koch Institute.
“Timbs [v. Indiana] is one of most interesting and fun, quirky cases of the Supreme Court term,” said Vikrant.
The case concerns an Indianapolis man busted by police for a series of drug crimes. While the maximum fine the trial court could have possibly imposed amounted to $10,000, the police also confiscated the man’s $42,000 Land Rover — exceeding the limit four times over.
“The Eighth Amendment explicitly says that you can’t have excessive fines,” Vikrant says. “What you have essentially done here is put an excessive fine on me — and you violated the Constitution. This is an individual right.”
While the Supreme Court didn’t end civil asset forfeiture, it did decide to apply the excessive fines clause to the states, striking a blow to the practice.