By Erick Erickson
He has decided to expand a positively unconstitutional policy that should be ruthlessly fought in courts and legislatures around the country. Jeff Sessions wants to seize the property of Americans accused of crimes even if they are never found guilty by a jury.
Civil asset forfeiture has long been the government’s preferred means to confiscate property from suspected drug dealers and others. The problem, however, is that often the person is found not innocent by a jury and the assets are unrecoverable. According to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Agency alone has seized more than $3 billion from people not charged with a crime.
In one case in 2016*, Oklahoma police seized $53,000 owned by a Christian band, an orphanage and a church after stopping a man on a highway for a broken taillight. A few years earlier, a Michigan drug task force raided the home of a self-described “soccer mom,” suspecting she was not in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana law. They proceeded to take “every belonging” from the family, including tools, a bicycle and her daughter’s birthday money.*
What is appalling here is that many states are enacting prohibitions on civil asset forfeiture, but the Attorney General wants to allow state and local law enforcement to use federal asset forfeiture laws to continue seizing property. Local law enforcement will thereby be able to get around their own states’ laws, so long as they share the spoils of their ill gotten gains with the federal government. This turns the concept of federalism on its head.
It amounts to state sponsored piracy against the American people, is unconstitutional, and the President should restrain his Attorney General. Frankly, given the hostility of the state of New York towards the President, he ought to curtail this now before Governor Cuomo and the Attorney General of New York use this on Trump, Inc.