US Police Granted Increased Authority Following Recent Court Decision

In a recent development that has sparked widespread concern, the Supreme Court has given its approval to what critics are labeling as a ‘modern-day form of highway robbery’. Far from being a mere infringement on personal property, this decision is seen as an outright assault on our fundamental rights and liberties. In the words of constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, “Americans no longer need to be guilty to have their property, rights, and liberties stripped away from them.” The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated.

The controversy revolves around police resorting to delay tactics when they confiscate cash, jewelry, cars, and other valuables from individuals who may not have committed any crime. These so-called “asset forfeiture” cases often do not involve any criminal charges against the property owners. This alarming information is brought to light by the Rutherford Institute, a staunch defender of constitutional, religious and civil rights in America’s courts.

In a surprising 6-3 decision in Culley v. Marshall case, the justices ruled that citizens do not possess due process protections in asset forfeiture proceedings to challenge early court hearings about the government retaining possession of their confiscated property while awaiting trial.

The lawyers from Rutherford Institute joined forces with those from ACLU and Cato Institute in an effort to argue for an early hearing. Their goal was clear – protect citizens against government delay tactics that make it difficult for innocent individuals to promptly reclaim their seized property from police who stand to profit from the forfeiture.

Justice Neil Gorsuch rightly highlighted the issue of police delaying proceedings and retaining citizens’ private property for extended periods that could span over a year. He underscored how this could pressure owners into “settling” disputes by paying penalties for properties essential for their livelihood or those they hold dear. Unfortunately, his voice of reason was overruled by the majority.

John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, issued a stern warning: “Americans no longer have to be guilty to be stripped of their property, rights and liberties. You just have to possess something the government wants.”

Asset forfeiture has transformed into a profitable venture for the government. In 2018 alone, federal forfeitures raked in an astonishing $2.5 billion. This practice involves government agents, typically police officers, confiscating private property they ‘suspect’ might be linked to criminal activity. Even if no crime is established, the government retains the citizen’s property and often shares it with local police who initiated the seizure.

The government defends its actions in such cases by claiming that certain properties are ‘tied’ to a crime before proceeding to seize them. It then places the burden on the owner to prove their property’s ‘innocence’. However, it creates hurdles and obstacles for owners attempting to reclaim their own property.

The cost of challenging these seizures in court can surpass the value of confiscated property itself. As Justice Gorsuch elucidated in his concurrence, this is why some agencies reportedly focus on seizing low-value items and relatively small amounts of cash,” as reported by The Rutherford Institute.

The case originated when Alabama police seized cars belonging to Halima Culley and Lena Sutton that were used by others accused of drug possession.

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