February 20, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated by the Bill of Rights and applies against state and local fines, fees, and forfeitures.  

The American Civil Liberties Union had filed a friend-of –the-court brief in the case.

Nusrat Choudhury, deputy director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, issued the following response:

“The ACLU is thrilled the Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause protects people from state and local authorities’ abusive reliance on fines, fees, and forfeitures to raise revenue and pay for the legal system. The Excessive Fines Clause is now clearly held to be a safeguard when state and local courts and police see people as dollar signs. 

“As noted in our friend-of-of-the-court brief, imposing monetary penalties that bury people under mountains of accumulating debt has devastating consequences on individuals, families, and entire communities, particularly low-income communities of color.”

The ACLU’s brief is online here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/timbs-v-indiana-amicus-brief-0

This statement is online here: https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-statement-supreme-court-ruling-excessive-fines

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