The Supreme Court just unanimously voted to stop the police from stealing your stuff for no reason.

In a landmark unanimous decision issued Wednesday, February 20, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled civil asset forfeiture unconstitutional because it violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against excessive fines and fees.

Civil asset forfeiture allows local law enforcement agencies to seize people’s cars, cash, homes, and pretty much anything else that is suspected of being used to commit a crime.

To get their property back, citizens have to prove it wasn’t obtained illegally, even in situations where no indictment was filed.


A few examples of ridiculous government overreach provided by Harvard Law Review:

Mary and Leon Adams resided in their West Philadelphia house for forty-six years when the police told them to vacate and initiated a civil forfeiture proceeding against the property because their adult son sold $60 worth of marijuana on the porch.

Tina Bennis faced a similar fate when the Supreme Court upheld the civil forfeiture of the car she jointly owned with her husband after he secretly had sex with a prostitute inside the vehicle.

Victor Ramos Guzman was pulled over for speeding and a state trooper seized $28,500; he was a church secretary en route to buy land for the church with the donated money and possessed no contraband.

A Washington Post report found that from 2008 to 2014, 81% of cash and property seizures came from incidents in which no indictment was filed.

via Office of Public Affairs / Flickr

To make it simple: Before the SCOTUS decision, the police could just steal your stuff for no reason whatsoever.

According to the Institute for Justice, in 2015 Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. The same year, the FBI reports that in-home burglary losses were $3.5 billion.

Law enforcement officials have a perverse incentive to shake down the people they’re sworn to protect. Civil asset forfeiture has become a huge part of funding for law enforcement agencies.

“Increasingly, our justice system has come to rely on fines, fees and forfeitures to fund law enforcement agencies rather than having to answer to elected officials for their budgets,” Scott Bullock, the president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice, told ABC News.

“We are grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court established that the U.S. Constitution secures meaningful protections for private property and limits the government’s ability to turn law enforcement into revenue generators," Bullock continued.

The case before the Supreme Court, Timbs v. Indiana, involved the police seizing a $42,000 Land Rover SUV from Tyson Timbs.

In 2015, Timbs sold heroin to an undercover cop and received one year of house arrest and five years of probation. The state also seized his car, which Timbs had purchased with money he received from his father’s life insurance policy.

Timbs challenged the seizure and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

The good news is that Timbs is sober and will either get his car back or compensation from the state for a comparable amount.

“Tyson paid his debts to society,” said Timbs’ attorney Wesley Hottot. “He took responsibility for what he did. He paid fees. He is in drug treatment. He is holding down a job. He is staying clean. Our hope and goal now is to get back his vehicle from the police so Tyson will have an easier time getting to all the different commitments he has to stay on the straight and narrow.”

Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

True

"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via 1POCNews / Twitter

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