Supreme Court Appears Ready To Make It Harder For States To Confiscate Property

At the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, a majority of the justices seemed ready to make it more difficult for states to confiscate cars, houses and other property that is even tangentially used in the commission of a crime. It’s a process legally known as civil asset forfeiture.

That would be a victory for Tyson Timbs, whose $42,000 Land Rover was seized by the state of Indiana after he was arrested for selling a small amount of heroin to undercover cops for $400. A trial judge ruled that taking the SUV was a grossly disproportionate punishment, on top of other fines and a year of house detention.

An Indiana appeals court agreed. But the state Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines, unlike nearly all the other provisions of the Bill of Rights, has never been applied to the states.