HBO’s John Oliver Will Make You Laugh (Then Cry) About Cops Taking Your Cash

HBO’s John Oliver Will Make You Laugh (Then Cry) About Cops Taking Your Cash

The Constitution continues to suffer attacks from the very people who have pledged to defend it. On a recent Last Week Tonight show, John Oliver highlighted that more than $2.5 billion in civil forfeitures have taken place since 2001. Despite enjoying express constitutional protection from illegal searches and seizures, the personal property of individual citizens is now regularly confiscated by aggressive forces of law and order who trample on the rights of those they should serve.

John Oliver pointed to the absurdity of the current situation where private property (not people) was effectively sued by the federal government. Furthermore, the HBO star highlighted the fact that these seizures can occur even when no criminal charges have been laid and no convictions against the owner of the property have been recorded.

As Slate would later ask, “Sounds like the perfect setup for overzealous policing and corruption, right?”

Does it ever!

In more than 60,000 cases since 9/11, police have seized more than $2.5 billion in goods and cash, the owners of which struggle to recoup their goods in a legal system designed to deny them their rights. Indeed, unlike a typical legal interaction where an individual is considered “innocent until proven guilty” by the state, the current civil forfeiture regime puts the onus to prove innocence on the individual to prove their property has done nothing wrong.

This absurdity was emphasized by International Business Times journalist Charles Poladian:

“It would appear here that the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” is actually reversed and the individual who owns the property must prove it is innocent of any crime, as charges can be filed against property and not the individual.”

Forbes magazine calls this change in the balance of power between citizens and their police forces a dangerous shift and warn of the troubles ahead if “policing for profit” continues unabated. The civil liberties guaranteed to each and every citizen as their American birthright are clearly under attack, and is little wonder that many are calling on Senator Rand Paul to once again introduce his FAIR Act to Congress to reinforce the protections that the Fifth Amendment provides them.

Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver, with a little help from Law & Order star Jeff Goldblum as you’ll see in the video below (Skip to 14:08), has put the trampling of rights by police and the government back on the national agenda. It’s now up to regular citizens to keep it there. Have you been the victim of an unconstitutional civil forfeiture? Get people’s attention by sending us a tweet or leaving a comment on our Facebook page!

Written by Dylan Kissane

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