Justices’ Answer On Excessive Fines Invites New Questions

Many advocates called it an important victory in the fight for a fairer justice system, but others noted the high court stopped short of explaining how courts should decide when a fine or forfeiture is excessive.

While “encouraging,” American Civil Liberties Union senior attorney Emma Andersson said Thursday the ruling may not turn out to be much of a check on police and prosecutors.

“The court said that the excessive fines clause applies to Timbs’ forfeiture case, but it did not say that Timbs’ forfeiture case violates the excessive fines clause,” she said. “In other words, the court has said that the rule applies but it hasn’t clearly articulated what that rule is.”