Is Government Sanctioned Theft on the Chopping Block?
The government gets away with a lot that clearly violates the rights of the people. My most recent column at EveryJoe considers whether it might be getting away with a little bit less in the near future.
First, the good news. The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could have significant impact on property rights. It’s brought by California raisin farmers who were fined massive amounts by the government simply for selling their crop. You see, in America – the land of the free and the home of the brave – it’s rarely ever true that you can juts make a product and sell it. You must jump through hopes to produce your goods, then jump through more to sell them.
…Raisin farmers were promised a return on their forced contributions, but over time saw ever dwindling returns. In 2003 the government confiscated 47% of their crops and provided zero compensation. Let me say that again. The government stole nearly half of all raisins produced without compensating farmers at all.
…When it hears the case later this year, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to breathe life back into the Takings Clause and make clear that the law does not allow for such blatant government theft.
The other bit of positive news comes from an unexpected source. As one of his last acts as Attorney General, Eric Holder recently announced new restrictions on civil asset forfeiture, which allows police and prosecutors to take money and property from citizens never convicted of a crime if they can plausibly argue a tangential relation of the property to a suspected crime. It is then put on the citizen to prove their innocence, or more specifically, the innocence of their property. And I kid you not, the government actually “charges” the property in question, which results in bizarre case names like United States v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency or Nebraska v. One 1970 2-Door Sedan Rambler (Gremlin).
…In apparent response to this growing awareness, Holder’s order declared that “Federal adoption of property seized by state or local law enforcement under state law is prohibited.
But there are some important caveats to both pieces of news, which you can find out by reading the whole thing here.