Don’t Speed in Indiana . . .

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Principles can be very dangerous things.

A terribly dangerous principle was accepted, years ago, when it became legal – though no less loathsome  – for armed government workers to simply take people’s property without due process of law – by asserting its possession was “related” (somehow) to criminal activity, usually something to do with arbitrarily illegal drugs.

But nothing specific – and nothing established by a court.

This taking is styled civil asset forfeiture – to get around the irksome due process requirement in criminal proceedings that the government must prove (and a jury affirm) that the property taken was in fact “related” to something specifically criminal.

Before it takes it.

Instead, the government simply takes the property – like the marauding hillbillies in James Dickey’s novel (and movie) Deliverance.

“If we want your money, we’ll take your money.”

It then becomes the obligation of the property’s now-former owner to prove that his possession of the property taken from him was not “related” to criminal activity. On his time, at his expense – with the government which took the property being the arbiter of its own taking.

At least the former owner isn’t required to “drop them pants.”

Yet.

And at least there had to be an assertion of criminal activity to get the civil asset forfeiture ball rolling.

Indiana is claiming even that is too much of a burden.

According to the state’s solicitor general, a guy named Thomas Fisher, the state can – in principle – take (and keep) a motorist’s car over traffic infractions, such as exceeding the speed limit.

Any speed limit.

Do 36 in a 35 and the state of Indiana – vox Fisher, who speaks in its name – says your car becomes its property, at least in principle. They’ll take it if they want to.  

Plus force you to pay whatever the fine is.

This is the position that we already staked out in the Supreme Court when I was asked by Justice Breyer whether a Bugatti can be forfeited for going five miles over the speed limit,” Fisher told the court earlier this month.

“Historically the answer to that question is yes – and we’re sticking with that position here.”

Thomas M. Fisher, Indiana Solicitor General

Justice Breyer laughed. But anyone contemplating a drive across the Indiana state line ought to take this very seriously. Because maniacs like this Fisher character are waiting there for you.

And your car.

In case you didn’t know, a Bugatti is an ultra-exotic car worth millions of dollars. Fisher argued before the Supremes in his official capacity that it is reasonable – well, constitutional – for the state to relieve a person of millions of dollars in property over a traffic infraction with a maximum punishment of perhaps a a couple hundred bucks.

Plus the couple hundred bucks.

He thinks this is ok.

Think about that.

Your car is probably not worth millions, of course. But if the state can seize a millionaire’s Bugatti because its driver did 36 in a 35 then surely it can seize your Camry on the same principle.

And if it can take your Camry because you were caught speeding, then why not for other minor infractions, such as failing to buckle up?

Or because your car has a burned out taillight?

Fisher didn’t argue this – but it’s implicit in his argument. In the principle he espoused.

If it is accepted that government can take the property of someone merely accused of a crime then it is hard to see why it may not take the property of someone accused of an infraction.

Any infraction.

At least Indiana is being  . . . principled.

It applied this principle back in 2015 when it decided to keep a Land Rover SUV owned by a man named Tyson Timbs – who wasn’t even speeding.

Timbs was found to be in “possession” of arbitrarily illegal drugs. But the punishment applied for this upon conviction – a maximum of $10,000 – wasn’t enough for the state of Indiana.

So it kept his $40,000 vehicle, too – even though Timbs proved he had purchased the vehicle with money received from his father’s life insurance policy. 

Not “drug” money.

It didn’t matter. The state of Indiana wanted his Land Rover – and took it.

Now get up against that tree . . .

Timbs got some legal help from the Institute for Justice, which argued before the Supreme Court in late 2018 that Indiana’s seizure of Timbs’ vehicle was “disproportionate” and thus in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s injunction that “excessive fines” (among other things) not be imposed.

Indiana responded by arguing that the Eighth Amendment’s injunctions only applied to federal actions; the Court rejected this in a unanimous decision in favor of Timbs that stated the Eighth Amendment’s protections apply at the state and local level as well as the federal level.

A victory for Timbs. But one that missed the missed the point – which is the odious principle underlying this whole mess.

If the government – Indiana’s or some other state’s or the federal government –  can seize any property whatsoever- irrespective of its value – simply by asserting its possession was “related” to something illegal, whether a crime or an infraction, then there is no amount of property it may, in principle, not seize.

The “disproportionate” argument is a dead end because it’s not a principled argument; because it’s open to interpretation.

Like “the common good” and “public interest,” people’s opinions will vary as regards what is – and is not – “disproportionate. Even in absurdly disproportionate instances (as in the Timbs case) there will be those who claim it isn’t.

The only effective antidote to the thievery under color of law that is civil asset forfeiture is the assertion – by us – of another principle:

That no person may lawfully be deprived of any property, ever, without due process of law having run its course – with a defense to counter the prosecution, a judge to supervise the proceedings according to law and jury to decide upon guilt.

With innocence presumed until guilt is proved.

And that punishment – any form thereof – not be applied prior to conviction.

This actually is the law.

It’s right there, in the Constitution.

If anyone bothered to read it – and respect what’s written there.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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41 COMMENTS

  1. I think the idea of seizing cars is particularly pernicious because as a form of transportation they can be viewed by these people as helping with any illegal activity. “He couldn’t do X if he didn’t have a car to take him there.” It can be bent and stretched like the general welfare clause and the interstate commerce clause.

  2. Driving from Nashville to Chicago I decided to go through IN once. A guy that was speeding past me in heavy traffic merged right, cut me off, and slammed on his breaks. I immediately changed lanes, moving into the left lane to avoid slamming on my breaks. It became apparent that he was doing what he did because there was a cop there with a radar pointed at him (this is a whole ‘nother point that cops are BAD for traffic and cause people to drive dangerously in order to avoid highway robbery). The cop pulled me over and said that I was the one speeding (it was clearly, obviously, and without a doubt, the other guy). Ticketed me and stole a couple hundred bucks from me.

    I’ll never be driving through IN again.

  3. States like Indiana and Ohio are shit holes anyway. Absolutely nothing of any value in either state which is why the AGWs have turned to armed robbery. Probably muggings and gang rapes next.
    Best to avoid both states. If I have to travel west I go through Michigan’s U.P. and then into Minnesota.
    Incidentally Ohio and Indiana have some of the worst towns and cities in America. It’s the reason why both state’s governments have become criminal entities.
    No cop deserves any respect.
    Murderers
    rapists
    child molesters
    thieves
    liars
    sociopaths and psychopaths of every sort.
    There is absolutely nothing good to say about AGW/cops in America.
    Nothing.

  4. i have the Insitute for Justice on my list of worthy causes. they got $250 just last week and get similar checks as regularly as i can afford them. The IJ got this guy a UNANIMOUS decision…that means the indiana solicitor general, Thomas Fisher, got repudiated ROUNDLY and sent home bleeding from the ass and ears. this happens ONLY when we all get out our wallets and send in the lawyers to dish out the high hard legal whammy. those of us who get torqued and twisted around an axle reading about this BS can make a difference. i urge you to consider them for your worthy cause list

    IJ.org

  5. Most Americans are now just mentally ill retards thanks to public schools and television. It is only going to get worse…especially when the political terrorists give amnesty to 20 million illegal thieving voting retards from south of Texas. America is dead.

    • Hi Char,

      The core problem, as I see it, is the general acceptance of authoritarian collectivism. The idea that abstract “majorities” and their supposed “representatives” can legitimately apply force to peaceful individuals who’ve harmed no one, to compel them to hand over money to fund things they didn’t ask for, don’t want and haven’t consented to; to order their lives; to restrict what they may and may not do … to drag them along, contrary to their will. To not leave them be.

      It’s a common pathology. Neither “conservatives” nor “liberals” reject authoritarian collectivism. They merely differ as to how it ought to be applied – and by whom.

      The only way to cure this disease is for a working majority of people to willingly reject the idea of authoritarian collectivism. To accept that their fellow human beings have as much right to be left in peace as they do. Even if they do not like what their fellow human being is doing, or think they know a better way.

      This will take a change of mind and heart. A self-control which very few people seem to have any longer.

      But which Americans did once have.

      There was a saying: He ain’t bothering you, leave him alone.

      It’s not heard much anymore.

      • As you commented in another thread “…people in the main no longer consider practical considerations”. That is an absolute fact, and extends to their political and philosophical thinking. A good friend of mine thinks that guns should be licensed and difficult to get, but not for him. He thinks taxes should be higher to pay for cops and soldiers and certain social programs, but he assiduously avoids every tax he can. Our forever wars are good, but he sure doesn’t want his sons or grand-kids to go. “There oughta be a law!” is one of his favorite utterances, but it never seems to occur to him that the law he espouses will one day be used against him. Cognitive dissonance, insouciance, lack of practical insight at its best. And he always votes.

        Gawd help us all

      • “The only way to cure this disease is for a working majority of people to willingly reject the idea of authoritarian collectivism”

        Agreed. But 90% of people on Earth are too retarded to be free and will always seek external authority like the retarded parasites (women/children) that they are.

        The political terrorists will have their 1000 year Reich.

        Move someplace warm where you can fish.

        • Hi CharMan,

          The aversion to freedom that seems to characterize the majority of the human species is deeply depressing to me, as a Libertarian. It keeps me up nights. Makes me wonder whether the smart thing to do is forget about it and try to make the best of it.

          • I don’t believe that humans have any ‘aversion’ to freedom, it is just that most people have a normalcy bias, and take their ‘freedom’ so lightly that they don’t pay attention to the fact that they have lost so much of it until they are loaded into cattle cars (or air-conditioned busses) on their way to the slaughterhouse.
            The population has been so dumbed-down and mis-educated for over a century- all part of the plan.

            • Hi Nathan,

              “- all part of the plan.”

              Yes, and the massive power imbalance between the average citizen and the government. Despite the few posters here who seem to revel in impugning the courage of others, early adopters of resistance get killed or imprisoned. Most people create an hierarchy of value for themselves. At the top is usually the well being of oneself, one’s family and one’s friends.

              To the keyboard warrior, meaningful resistance usually means violent resistance or open civil disobedience, which is pretty much guaranteed to harm or destroy those things most people value most. The unavoidable fact is that the type of resistance noticed by the PTB is irrational, as it will not achieve the preferred end, but will cause personal harm. I consider the escalation of police violence to be a demonstration of this power, done intentionally to discourage resistance.

              Also, despite Nunzio’s objections, the only possible solution I see is radical decentralization. While unlikely to happen soon, unless the ratio between the governed and the governors changes drastically, a culture of liberty cannot be created.

              As an aside, I know that the keyboard warriors are hypocrites for a simple reason, they’re not in jail or dead.

              Cheers,
              Jeremy

              • If your cause is politically correct, you can be as belligerent and chaotic as you want and the worst you will get is a slap on the wrist.

                If it isn’t, you get a dry shave.

                When will people realize this?

                • Hi Chuck,

                  “If your cause is politically correct, you can be as belligerent and chaotic as you want…”

                  To paraphrase Chomsky, that type of faux resistance is “manufactured dissent”. The elite class is pushing ideologies and policies that are guaranteed to create conflict. Most of the people engaging in violence are useful idiots who are so deluded that they honestly believe that they are “working against the man”.

                  It is easy to distinguish “manufactured dissent” from the real thing just by noticing what the protestors claim to want. If they demand that government “solve” the most fashionable among the “endless series of hobgoblins” Mencken wrote of, the dissent is manufactured. This can be hard to notice because most of the protestors are just as described above.

                  Cheers,
                  Jeremy

                  • Oh, I well know that most of this is funded from way up high and instigated by professional troublemakers, but in a technical sense it is also still a massive double standard.

                    • Hey Chuck,

                      Of course there’s a double standard, it’s designed that way. Conflict between groups, all of whom are fundamentally hostile to the exercise of State power, is not conducive to the “health of the State”. There has to be, at the least, a “well meaning, but misguided side” vs an “evil” side.

                      Imagine if an armed group of masked tax protesters routinely beat the crap out of people advocating for more government? Does anyone believe that they would be treated with the restraint applied to Antifa? Or, consider Charlottesville. When Trump correctly observed that there were good people on both sides, the entire elite class went crazy.

                      You see, good and bad, according to them, is determined by which side is ultimately advocating for more, or less, State power.

                      The modern left is clamoring for massive increases in State power, while “we” primarily just wish to be left alone. Which side do you think the PTB are going to tacitly support?

                      Cheers,
                      Jeremy

                  • Useful idiots like ANTIFA, BAMM, BLM and other assorted nitwits progressing to a violent end all funded by Soros.
                    Just watch your six.

      • As long as the political terrorists have their money counterfeit racket they will always be able to enslave the planet. The fountainhead of political terrorism is the Central Banking money counterfeit.

  6. We have a serious problem in this country. The statist left is out of control to the point where they’re actually scary. The trannyism, the Green New Deal, the gun confiscation, the teaching of gayness to four-year-olds, the Deep State coup against Trump, the blatant disregard for immigration law and siding with foreigners against Americans is intolerable.

    Whaddya do? Well, naturally you vote Republican.

    But the problem with THAT is that the Republican conservatives who are supposed to save you from the depredations of the Left-wing Leviathan are cop-worshipers and bootlickers for a militarized police state. And sooner or later the pro-cop precedents that are set by flag-waving, cop-loving Republicans are going to be abused by left-wing nutjobs when they’re in power.

    Indiana is one of the most conservative, Republican states out there yet they think nothing of confiscating your car for speeding. When the Left is in power, they’ll seize your fucking guns for speeding.

    WTF…

  7. Sad. Indiana was one of the few remaining conservative states in the midwest. i was thinking about moving there too. When i drove through it last time alot of people go 90mph on the highway.

    • If you’re not moving 70mph between the lights on the local divided highway there is a good chance you’re roadkill or gonna be. Heck, 50+ on the curvy back roads here in Southern Indiana is normal. Outside of the end of the month or a holiday you don’t see the AGWs on the road much. Too busy messing around on the free WIFI dotting the landscape.

  8. “I’m actually surprised the black robed government workers didn’t find in favor of the State. They will soon enough.”

    I’m actually a bit sad they didn’t find in Indiana’s favor.

    I’m looking forward to the gun confiscation so that the new freedom will be welcomed by everyone on the way to the camps.

    An unarmed society is an obedient and obeisant society.

    All hail the new freedom!

    • may years ago (approx 1980) i saw a bumper sticker that read “Tyrants love unarmed peasants”. i was still young and didn’t fully digest that truth nugget but that fact that i remember seeing it all these decades later is telling and confirms that a small lie repeated often enough becomes dogma BUT SO DOES A SMALL TRUTH. let’s all keep telling small truths. i always scold my jew friends for being gun controllers…who on earth knows better that tyrants love unarmed peasants

        • thanks for that reminder jason. regrettably, this clique in the tribe is a true minority. it’s doubly odd too because the jews have the second nastiest armed forces in the world, after us. the U.S. base is strangely democrat

  9. I can understand how states on the Northeastern Seaboard and the West Coast got so corrupt.

    But how did this disease spread to Heartland States like Missouri and Indiana? (Not even asking about what went wrong in Illinois….that’s easy to see.)

    What about Kansas and Iowa? Are they going rotten too?

    • the states get away with this shit because we let them. we don’t file suit enough and the state ONLY responds to force. our ONLY force in response to a stare is the courts. get out your wallets guys and let’s get busy suing the assholes. let’s try to have the entire concept of sovereign immunity abolished in our lifetime

      the institute for justice has many legal battles going on on any given day. a little dough re-mi from all of us can make that many more battles that states cannot win when forced to make their case

      • Cities, counties, and state governments learned to drop charges when people fight back. That is they’ll let the person who can and will fight go in the lower courts to protect the bigger scam.

        That’s why this stuff is so rare to get to a point where a case can make a difference. For whatever reason the people in government and/or the person fighting it are both the type not to let it go.

        • true as all damn hell brent. they cannot risk having their scam revealed…which is why we here should ALL have our checkbooks out to support those who do punch back. my support of IJ last year was my largest single cause i supported.

  10. This abomination is enabled by the court system which is supposedly there to ensure justice but instead has been perverted into the “just us” system to rubber stamp whatever obscenity Uncle inflicts on us mundanes. Would love to see the streets around the courthouse packed with protesters like the recent demonstrations in Hong Kong but no one thinks it could ever happen to them.

    • I have avoided Indiana ever since I filled up with gas one time, and when I went into the station to pay and was charged SALES TAX on top of the gas pump price. They no longer do this, since the state is only 150 miles wide, and it is easy to avoid buying fuel there. But it showed me that Indiana is a commie/nazi state.

      • So they had a state motor fuels tax, AND a sales tax on fuel? And I’m guessing that when they calculated it, they included the motor fuels tax in the amount subject to the sales tax. Because of course they would…

        • The motto of the US government is “E Pluribus Unim” which means “from many, one”. More and more I think it should be changed to “GrabGrabGrabGrabGrab!”

  11. Apparently you missed the memo Eric,,, the Constitution is now deprecated. The new law of the land is called “What’s yours is mine,,, What’s mine is mine” and all I have to do is scribble something on a piece of paper, and call it law . You remember the picture of the boot on your head? Well not most Americans,,, they’re too busy kissing and hugging the top of it,,, sometimes higher up.

    The system is in meltdown, Governments are broke, Their Pensions are seriously in trouble. They’re gonna tax anything that moves, not nailed down or nailed down and if that fails they’ll steal it.

    I’m actually surprised the black robed government workers didn’t find in favor of the State. They will soon enough.

    • my ma used to describe the democrat party as “what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is ours”

      bernie sanders walks into a bar and yells “drinks for everyone! who’s paying?”

  12. What’s been scary about this “Civil Asset Forfeiture” is that the property is seized as a CIVIL proceeding against the property, with no semblance of any due process. Designed to deal with “Drug Kingpins” on the premise that otherwise they’ll hire the best lawyers and “Get off scot-free” (which belies the Government’s case anyway), it’s now devolved into an excuse to steal from the people, in a manner that makes recovery impractical…and in sheer irony, preys the worst on the working poor.

    Yes, the “principle” of ANY forfeiture should be that the property is only forfeited if (1) the Government proves, beyond REASONABLE DOUBT, that it’s the direct fruit of illicit actvity, e.g., the mere fact that the accused possessed it doesn’t by default make it so, and (2) the value is in proportion to the crime itself. The latter principle is to stave off a ridiculous notion that someone having a joint justifies the taking of his ride. Finally, by law the department making the seizure should NOT “reap the rewards”, which has seen police chiefs of little podunk 5-officer departments put emergency lights and the department livery on a late model Mercedes AMG, or have a margarita machine in the department’s break room! Didn’t anyone ever see the obvious CONFLICT OF INTEREST there, or is nothing “too good” for our “Heroes”?

    • Reminds of an old episode of Top Gear where Jeremy tries to dodge the British Army in a tuned-up Lancer Evo seized from a drug pusher. Apparently, a judge had ruled that the car had to be destroyed. Uh, excuse me? The car didn’t sell fricking drugs! It’s an inanimate freakin’ object! If you have to take it away then at least sell it or something so someone else can get some good out of it.

  13. If only the Beach Boys knew this before their hit song “Kokomo” became a hit song, because I seriously doubt they’d want to get their faster if they take it slow…way down in Kokomo.

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