Despite President Trump’s Support for Legalized Theft, Congress Presses on With Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

“We’ll destroy his career.”

That’s what President Trump said about a Texas lawmaker who wanted to reform civil asset forfeiture, or the ability of cops to confiscate people’s property, often without convicting them of a crime. This raises a question: Will Trump also threaten the careers of federal legislators who speak out against and try to reform this un-American practice? There certainly is no shortage of forfeiture reform proponents. And a good number of them are members of the Republican Party.

According to a recent Cato Institute/YouGov poll, a substantial majority of Americans, 84 percent, oppose civil forfeiture.

Just this week, Republican and Democratic leadership of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee introduced the DUE PROCESS Act. This is on the heels of a Justice Department inspector general report that finds federal forfeitures “may not advance or relate to criminal investigations.” DUE PROCESS stands for “Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights of Citizens from Excessive Searches and Seizures Act.” The bill provides protections, like the right to an attorney, for those facing forfeiture proceedings.

Essentially, the DUE PROCESS bill sponsors — Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) — are saying: Don’t take away people’s stuff without due process. While the bill will help property owners navigate a legal process where the deck is stacked against them, it does not yet address forfeiture’s main attraction — the money. Millions of dollars are generated annually through forfeiture, and in many cases, law enforcement get to “eat what they kill.” The bill’s sponsors must consider this piece as the legislation advances. Other members of Congress have.

For instance, earlier this month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act or FAIR Act. This bill (S. 642 and H. 1555) not only addresses the procedural hurdles in forfeiture proceedings but the profit incentive driving forfeiture as well. The ACLU supports this bill.

Civil forfeiture reform is a bipartisan issue. And that has long been the case. Whether it’s property rights or civil rights — or both — that brings one to the issue, all agree that civil asset forfeiture is not working. According to a recent Cato Institute/YouGov poll, a substantial majority of Americans, 84 percent, oppose civil forfeiture.

Trump's comment about destroying someone’s career over forfeiture reform is just another example of his disconnect with the American people — and his own party — as well as his penchant for intimidation. The public has long known that civil asset forfeiture promotes unconstitutional policing, over-policing, biased policing, and militarized policing. And we are glad that members of Congress and state lawmakers — on both sides of the aisle — recognize this, too, and remain undeterred on forfeiture reform.

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How is Taxation any more justifiable than civil asset forfeiture?

They are both theft and should be abolished.


Well, there's that "due process" thing mentioned in the article. And that's just for starters.

But since I assume you are merely making a disingenuous pro-civil forfeiture argument through distraction I will stop there.

Libertarian Avenger

@ gigga:
No Anonymous isn't being pro civil asset forfeiture. Anonymous is being pro liberty. It's standard Libertarian principles.

Tex Arcana

Ah, "libertarians", those believe they owe no debt to the society that sustains them. The ultimate is narcissistic selfishness--well, beaten out by trump, maybe; but there it is: y'all are people too selfish to care about those that help sustain you, and too cheap to realize that our government is the result of a contract between #WeThePeople and those who we HIRE to run the government for us, and under our direction. A few exceptions notwithstanding (trump, bush, Jr., LBJ, Nixon, Reagan& a few others), they've done a pretty good job. That contract, plus rule of law, makes ANY nation possible. Libertarianism, however, is just selfish anarchy, the worst aspect or our human nature made a priority.

If you don't like taxes, don't pay them: just do it someplace else where we who *understand* they why's and wherefores of our government don't have to bail you out for your stupid stubborness.


Dear Anonymous,

If you feel capable of defending your family and your property against physical and cyber attacks without the aid of police or army; putting out any fires that threaten your belongings and loved ones without any help from publicly funded water or firefighters, constructing and maintaining your own roads and highways (no fair using the ones paid for by taxes, and no taking trains or buses either!); schooling yourself and children without tax-funded education, books, or scholarships; buying or constructing and maintaining your own house without FHA or other government-subsidized loans; running or working for businesses that accept no small business loans or publicly supported advice; and engaging in and attending no sports, parks, or arts activities (they all involve some manner of tax funding), feel free to stop paying taxes, and enjoy your solitary life. You will be way too busy trying to stay alive for the rest of us ever to see you again.


Hello here is the issue as demonstrated by the responses. We pay taxes but not to fatten Congressman and legislators pockets. We have no form of retirement but supposed social security because thanks to this government that was created with the people in mind have become selfish and given to much power. They want us to pay in by the way the highest taxation being social security but the elderly we are supporting continue to have the benefits cut. As we continue to live in poverty levels. Affecting as we all know one area greatly and that would be our legal system. So where is this money going and who is checking to make sure that's what's happening with it. We the people are forced to pay taxes and trust that the people who continue to strip us of our rights are doing what they are supposed to with the money. REALLY!!!!! We are to be held accountable for our actions while these reckless money driven people we call government is never held accountable. They set the example the people follow. May god come soon.


What if I told you I did all of that, except the publics roads, how would you suggest I go about not paying those taxes?
That's right, you can't. You don't have the freedom to do so. You pay if you use the service or not.

By the way, it's not that hard to live without those services and life is actually more enjoyable and fulling without. You've just been told it's not.

Simon Prophet

NASA has the influence and the incentive to end civil asset forfeiture


Seems the core of your argument is, that if they do a minimum for us, keeping in mind they make more money every time we use these things, and that justifies having horrific things done to us. I think I would trade the roads for the horrific things. Also half the stuff you said is tax funded Trump it's wanting to destroy anyway. Tax is theft, and we are in a country that wantonly violates human rights both foreign and domestic. .. but roads make it okay? By the way if you were paying attention, our government has poisoned the people of Flint Michigan, coercive water shut offs, spying on all Americans, massive prison populations, civil asset forfeiture, years of prison prior to trial, and they rip our children away from us for no good reason, and wants to put oil through Native Americans Water Supplies. But you draw the line at transportation and parks?


Hey Mr. Anonymous,

If that's how you feel, then vote out the Republican Party. They are the ones who feel government is a problem, and they have cut all the funds which have helped Americans live better lives. Today, more than ever, all of our lives are tightly intertwined. We have a chance to build a better society, or we can stay mad, be selfish, and rip our country apart. If you want governemnt to work better, get invovled. The ACLU is fighting the current admininstration very hard to keep real deomocracy alive so that people such as yourself can live in a better, freer, country. It seems to be the right-wing of the Republican Party that wants to limit freedom, and let the rich and corporations have all the power. You can stay angry, but get involved.


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