Last month, members of the House made a bold move to thwart the Department of Justice’s abusive civil asset forfeiture program.
Three amendments were included in the passage of the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act that defund federal adoptive seizure policies.
Adoptive seizures, also known as the Equitable Sharing Program, exist under the federal civil asset forfeiture program, allowing local police departments who work with federal law enforcement in operations to claim a portion of funds or property seized during the process.
At first glance this seems harmless enough, however, under the policy anyone can have their property seized if they’re suspected of involvement in a crime, even if they’re never charged or convicted for said crime. This throws due process to the wind and opens the door for massive abuse. With that, under civil asset forfeiture seizures, law enforcement stole more from citizens than actual burglars did in 2015.
This past July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the reinstatement of the adoptive seizure policy, which was ended in 2015 by then Attorney General Eric Holder.
The amendment by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) makes it so funding under asset seizures adhere to the previous limits set by Holder.
More than two dozen states have made efforts in recent years to limit or even outright ban civil asset forfeiture in their respective states, and these amendments represent one of the largest Congressional actions in recent years to reign in the program.
To a broader extent, the accompanying amendments to the appropriations bill not only limit the DOJ’s power under the program, but they coincide with passage of Rep. Peter Roskam’s (R-IL) Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act that targets the IRS and their abusive practices against American taxpayers, made legal under the civil asset forfeiture program.
With this in mind, one can expect to see further action from Congress taken against civil asset forfeiture in the coming months. Bills and amendments like these are common sense solutions that ensure bureaucratic agencies like the DOJ and IRS show taxpayers and citizens the respect they deserve.