Timbs Supreme Court Case: Amicus Briefs Stack Up Against Excessive Fines

In late November or early December, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Timbs v. State of Indiana, a case that will decide whether the U.S. Constitution’s protection against excessive fines applies to state and local governments, just as it has applied to the federal government since 1791. The case involves the forfeiture of a $42,000 vehicle for a crime involving a few hundred dollars. The Indiana Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause applies to only the federal government and does not apply at all to state and local authorities.

“Our client, Tyson Timbs, has already paid his debt to society,” said Wesley Hottot, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which is representing Timbs. “He’s taken responsibility for what he’s done. He’s paid fees. He’s in drug treatment. He’s holding down a job. He’s staying clean. But the State of Indiana wants to take his property, too, and give the proceeds to the agency that seized it. As we explained in our merits brief, there are limits, and this forfeiture crosses the line. We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling. This case is about more than just a vehicle; it’s about whether 330 million Americans get to enjoy their rights under the U.S. Constitution.”

Nineteen amicus (or “friend-of-the-court”) briefs have been filed thus far in Timbs. Among the more notable amici are:

  • The ACLU, R-Street Institute, Fines and Fees Justice Center and Southern Poverty Law Center, which submitted a brief that examines the effect of excessive fines and fees on the poor, as well as the use of fees to raise revenue for the government.
  • The American Bar Association’s brief examines how the Excessive Fines Clause protects equality of justice under the law.
  • The Constitutional Accountability Center’s brief spotlights the history of the passage of the 14th Amendment, and abuse of fines and forfeitures in post-Civil War southern states.
  • The DKT Liberty Project, Cato Institute, Goldwater Institute, Due Process Institute, Federal Bar Association Civil Rights Section and Texas Public Policy Foundation’s brief examines the abuses of forfeiture, fines, and plea bargaining.
  • The Drug Policy Alliance, NAACP, Americans for Prosperity, Brennan Center for Justice, FreedomWorks Foundation, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and others’ brief examines the history of civil forfeiture and how it came to be.
  • Three prominent scholars of the Eighth Amendment submitted a neutral brief that provides a deep dive into the history behind the Excessive Fines Clause, going back to Magna Carta.
  • The Institute for Free Speech’s brief documents the danger of excessive fines for technical violations of campaign finance laws.
  • The Juvenile Law Center and 40 other organizations filed a brief that chronicles the harsh effects of excessive fines on juveniles in the criminal justice system.
  • The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund’s brief provide a history of the 14th Amendment and asks the Court to revisit cases where it declined to incorporate portions of the Bill of Rights against the states.
  • The Pacific Legal Foundation’s brief documents abusive fines by state and local governments.
  • A collection of scholars, represented by UCLA School of Law Professor Eugene Volokh, filed a brief that discusses how excessive fines impact the poor.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a brief that examines how state attorneys general and other state and local government agencies impose excessive fines on businesses to raise revenue and even for political reasons.

Opposition amici in the case are due October 11.

The Institute for Justice released a high-resolution video news release that recounts Tyson Timbs’ battle to get his vehicle back and to extend constitutional protections against excessive fines across the entire United States.

The Future of U.S. Economic Growth event on Dec 4th in D.C.

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Featuring Edmund Phelps, Columbia University; Brink Lindsey, Vice President for Research, Cato Institute;Erik Brynjolfsson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Edward Glaeser, Harvard University; Robert Gordon, Northwestern University; and Dale Jorgenson, Harvard University.The Great Recession ended over five years ago, so why does the U.S. economy remain so sluggish? Fears are mounting that growth rates well below the long-term historical trend line may now be the “new normal.” Labor-force participation has been falling, while growth in labor skills has slowed considerably. Furthermore, the main engine of innovation — the “creative destruction” of entrepreneurial dynamism — appears to be sputtering, as the rates of both gross job creation and destruction and new firm formation have been declining steadily. Meanwhile, some experts even argue that the low-hanging fruit of major transformative breakthroughs has already been plucked and that, consequently, technological progress itself is winding down.

The purpose of this conference is to assess the long-term growth outlook of the U.S. economy and explore what policy changes might be needed to arrest and reverse the growth slowdown. We will bring together top economists and other experts for a full-day conference on these vital issues, with the first three sessions devoted to diagnosis of the key problems and the final two sessions focused on prescriptions for growth-enhancing policy reforms.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER AND FOR MORE INFORMATION

12 best libertarian advocacy organizations

Many libertarians and libertarian-minded Americans have various organizations bookmarked in their web browsers. Others who may not have identified themselves as ‘libertarian’ may be surprised to learn they are libertarian as they search for other labels for themselves other than liberal or conservative. As we wrote yesterday, Americans have been disassociating themselves from both the Democratic and Republican parties, so they may be looking for a political party, like the Libertarian Party which may be closer to their point of view.

Read rest of story here.