Reason Magazine reported today that Rand Paul’s FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act) will stop a lot of theft that the government has been able to do unchecked under federal civil forfeiture laws. The bill was introduced by the Senator from Kentucky in order to combat the rampant seizing of property by cops and federal agents, even when there has been no crime committed and often when there isn’t even any evidence of a crime.
Police have been able to circumvent the fifth amendment to the US Constitution under federal forfeiture laws, most of which boil down to having too much cash on hand or looking suspicious. The fifth amendment is supposed to protect against the seizing of property without due process, but since when has the government let a pesky thing like the Bill of Rights stop it from abusing its power?
Reason cites the case of Emiliano Gonzalez, where state troopers in Nebraska searched Gonzalez’s car after pulling him over. They discovered that he had $124,700, and decided they wanted it for themselves. Gonzalez had committed no crime aside from speeding on the interstate, but just having the cash was enough for cops to claim suspicion of drug trafficking.
Gonzalez’s case is one of many, with government officials often trying to shut down businesses because some of their customers were alleged to have committed crimes, and often taking property from people on a whim. The FAIR Act will seek to set a higher standard of evidence before your property can be taken simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by simply having too much of it with you.
The main change would be rewording parts of some federal laws from that require a “preponderance of evidence” to requiring “clear and convincing evidence.” In other words, they have to actually have some proof before mugging you. It’s unknown how well the bill will do, with the Senate controlled by democrats, most of whom are in favor of giant government and opposed to private property rights. Even if it gets past them it will have to get through the GOP controlled house, and republicans are not exactly big fans of reducing law enforcement capabilities to battle personal freedoms either.
The most important thing voters in this country can do is to make sure their representatives know their opinions and make their voices heard, either by contacting them to let them know their opinions, or by simply voting them out of office.