House Democrats and Republicans Unite Against Jeff Session’s Asset-Forfeiture Plan
The house adopted 3 different amendments to rein in civil asset forfeiture. Jeff Sessions wanted to change the rules and regulations with regards to civil-asset forfeiture so that the government could use probable cause and seize assets before they were to go to a federal court House Rejects Sessions Order Giving Cops More Power To Take Innocent People’s Stuff. Under adoptive forfeiture, the funds collected from these cases would go to local law enforcement.
Even though Jeff Sessions went into detail about how the Department of Justice would go to protect civil-assets of law-abiding Americans and probable cause, it isn’t enough for most people who are opponents of it. The opponents of it wish to have stronger protection and fear that there will be consequences of the enforcement. Attorney General Sessions Issues Policy and Guidelines on Federal Adoptions of Assets Seized by State or Local Law Enforcement.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich), a libertarian leaning Republican drafted one of the proposals tweeting:
I don’t like voice votes, but at least this time it was to adopt my amendment to rein in civil asset forfeiture! Thanks to the cosponsors!
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said he, “hold[s] dear the idea of due process and the presumption of innocence as it applies, not just to us as people, but also to our private property.” In other words, he reiterated that simply being connected to a crime isn’t enough, that it is a violation of due process. Rep. Tim Walberg (R. Mich) said that the amendment wasn’t a stopping point, but just a starting point in the right direction.
Voters also dislike the directive. The Morning Consult predicted goes into detail about what voters think about the issue, Congress may be reacting to pay attention to their constituents. Jeff Session’s July 19th, 2017 memo states that “key tool that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, take back ill-gotten gains, and prevent new crimes from being committed.” Attorney General Sessions Issues Policy and Guidelines on Federal Adoptions of Assets Seized by State or Local Law Enforcement.
59% of voters surveyed felt that they didn’t think that law enforcement should be able to take away people’s property if they were not convicted of a crime Sessions’ New Civil Asset Forfeiture Policy Fares Poorly Among Voters. 57% of voters thought that it was a bad idea to let law enforcement keep 80% of the funds that they seize and 55% said that the new initiative would do more harm than good. 67% of Democrats, 60% of Independents and 49% of Republicans are against the directive showing bipartisan opposition to it. Jonathan Banks, a research associate at the CATO institute, a libertarian leaning think-tank, says that he doesn’t believe that the protections that the DOJ is offering went far enough.
It would seem that Congress is responding directly to their own gut feeling and to their constituents. It remains to be seen how long this opposition to the administration lasts, with a Republican controlled White House, Congress and Senate. When both Democrats and Republicans can agree on something, then, they seem to be able to show that they can work together.