ShareThis Page
Editorials

Sessions' forfeiture fondness: Legally & morally wrong

| Friday, July 21, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions waits before speaking to federal, state and local law enforcement officials earlier this month in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions waits before speaking to federal, state and local law enforcement officials earlier this month in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions couldn't have been more wrong, legally and morally, when he recently told a National District Attorneys Association gathering in Minneapolis that he favors expanding civil asset forfeiture. Seizing cash, cars, houses and other property allegedly linked to crime without convicting its owners of anything is a noxious blight on due process and the Fourth Amendment that too often fosters abhorrent “policing for profit” abuse.

Civil asset forfeiture is big business for law enforcers: The Drug Enforcement Administration's 2007-16 cash seizures alone totaled $3.2 billion, according to a March inspector general's report from Mr. Sessions' own Justice Department. He not only wants his feds to ramp up civil asset forfeiture, he has already undone “an Obama administration order that prevented state and local authorities from using the federal system to sidestep restrictive state laws,” NBC News reports.

Thankfully, bipartisan congressional opposition to civil asset forfeiture continues to grow. And among critics of this reprehensible practice and backers of legislation to rein it in are some of Capitol Hill's most conservative lawmakers: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Judges have a role to play: A June ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requires prosecutors to show that seized property's owners both knew of and consented to illegal activity. But it's legislators — in Washington and in Harrisburg — who must stop civil asset forfeiture.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me