The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to the states, an outcome that could help efforts to rein in police seizure of property from criminal suspects.
…Law enforcement authorities have dramatically increased their use of civil forfeiture in recent decades. When law enforcement seizes the property of people accused of crimes, the proceeds from its sale often go directly to the agency that took it, Institute for Justice lawyer Wesley Hottot said in his written arguments in support of Timbs.
…Ginsburg noted that governments employ fines “out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence” because fines are a source of revenue.
…The case drew interest from liberal groups concerned about police abuses and conservative organizations opposed to excessive regulation. Timbs was represented by the libertarian public interest law firm Institute for Justice.
…The case is Timbs v. Indiana, 17-1091.