Why is this being done? Ostensibly, it is a tool to fight crime and seize assets from criminals, such as money from drug dealers. But the problem with this system is that it requires anyone who has had their assets seized to prove their innocence to reclaim their property. Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but it’s always been my understanding that a cornerstone of the American legal system is innocent until proven guilty.
So, Americans are being denied due process in asset seizures, something guaranteed to not happen under the Fifth Amendment. Anything else we need to know? Well, yes. And it goes back to one reason the seizures are taking place in the first place. In a Townhall.com report, it was noted that the Justice Department profited from these seizures last year to the tune of $2 billion. That’s right, my friends. Trampling constitutional rights is profitable.
So, there’s a financial reward for ignoring the Fifth Amendment. And sadly, innocent people have been swept into the Justice Department’s net. The Examiner noted the case of Emiliano Gonzalez. Gonzalez was pulled over for speeding, the only crime he was charged with, in Nebraska. State troopers seized $124,700 from Gonzalez by simply declaring it was for drugs – something they never actually proved or needed to in order to take the money. Gonzalez’s case is hardly unique – unless you’re considering it the single most expensive speeding ticket ever issued.
Thus the FAIR Act. Sen. Rand Paul has drafted the act to help enshrine what is already guaranteed with the Fifth Amendment. Firstly, it would require law enforcement to provide clear and convincing evidence before a seizure can take place. Secondly, it would take the financial incentive from the Justice Department for the seizures which do take place – forcing the Justice Department to relinquish the assets to a general government fund instead of keeping money seized. In Paul’s own words regarding the bill:
“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime. The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime.”
Written by Mark Davis
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