What A Novel Idea! Nebraska Abolishes Civil Forfeiture

It is one of the most disgusting and egregious uses of government power: the stealing of a citizen’s property by the state for its own use, without regard for those pesky rights we fought so hard to retain and codify. So kudos to the state of Nebraska for recognizing that the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution exist and need to be taken seriously.

The state may still forfeit property, but only after obtaining a conviction on drug, child pornography, or illegal gambling charges, and then only after demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that the property in question was used or intended to be used in the commission of the crime, or that it represented the illicit “fruits” of the criminal activity.

As tempting as it is to assume that these laws were enacted with noble intentions — after all, we had a big drug problem in the 1980s — our rights are not negotiable, and ceding them to government because we are afraid rarely solves any problems. So now we have police departments and federal government agencies with what is essentially a license to steal to fund their own operations. It is vile. it is illegal. It runs counter to the American system of justice that requires trial and conviction before punishment.

Maybe Nebraska will start a trend!