By Jeana Moll in Foundation for Economic Education
Last week, in refusing to consider a civil asset forfeiture case on procedural grounds, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas cast doubt that these practices could stand up constitutionally or be sustained by historical practice.
We share his doubt. Civil asset forfeiture is a procedure where state and federal government actors seize property from private citizens under the suspicion that the property is somehow involved with a crime. Those citizens are rarely charged or convicted of criminal behavior, but the property is brought into a civil court of law, wherein the government must meet what is usually a low burden to “prove” that property’s guilt.