PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Supreme Court Ruling Against Excessive Fines as Penalties
“State and local governments have increasingly been using fines and asset forfeiture to pad their budgets without imposing taxes directly. It is a cowardly and unconstitutional way to raise money while dodging responsibility for it.” - S.T. Karnick
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states cannot impose excessive fines as criminal penalties as described in the Eighth Amendment. Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion. This is a direct blow to the abuse of civil asset forfeiture guidelines that some state law enforcement agencies have made common practice.
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“State and local governments have increasingly been using fines and asset forfeiture to pad their budgets without imposing taxes directly. It is a cowardly and unconstitutional way to raise money while dodging responsibility for it. The Supreme Court was right to strike down these excessive fines as unconstitutional.
“In their concurring opinions, Justices Thomas and Gorsuch make an important point regarding how the Bill of Rights should be applied to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment. It is crucial that the nation’s highest court use the right reasons in making its decisions, something it has neglected terribly for the past several decades. We need more justices like Thomas and Gorsuch.”
“The Constitution’s prohibition against excessive fines in the Eighth Amendment recognizes the fundamental freedom of Americans to be free of arbitrary government action. The unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in this case is a ringing declaration that the individual rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights must be respected by the states as well as the federal government.”
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