By R Carter
When some states passed laws prohibiting the seizure of personal and or business assets of individuals charged with a crime, some local officials made arrangement with federal authorities to share assets if federal officials seized property on behalf of local law enforcement, effectively circumventing state law. Such steps were widely viewed as criminal by many but little could be done given the broad range of power granted under federal law.
All that has changed now with the passing of the Wallberg Bill. The amendment prohibits funding for the Department of Justice to continue a practice known as adoptive seizures, a loophole that local law enforcement used to circumvent state forfeiture laws. This will come as a blessing for many physicians who have been falsely accused by state medical boards of violation of the substance control act, placing a greater burden of proof on law enforcement for taking such actions. With the ability to retain personal and business assets, physicians falsely accused can now mount a better defense against such claims.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously approved a bipartisan amendment offered by Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) regarding the federal government’s power to seize private property without due process.
“For many years, I have worked in a bipartisan way to shine a light on civil asset forfeiture abuses,” said Walberg. “This amendment takes important steps to halt the practice of adoptive seizures, and it provides critical protections for all Americans and their right to due process under the Constitution.”
In the meantime, both Walberg and Raskin have introduced and are seeking passage of the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act), a series of sweeping reforms to civil asset forfeiture laws.
The goals of the FAIR Act are raise the level of proof necessary for the federal government to seize property, reform the IRS structuring statute to protect innocent small business owners, and increase transparency and congressional oversight.