After undergoing several medical challenges over the past few months, 85-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to work on the Supreme Court.
She returned in time to vote with the rest of the court in a unanimous decision to uphold the 14th Amendment which protects American citizens from excessive fines or levies at the state level.
The case they heard involved an Indiana man who had his $42,000 Land Rover seized as part of his fine for selling $385 worth of heroin.
Since the maximum fine for selling that quantity of heroin was only $10,000, Tyson Timbs argued that the seizure of his Land Rover was excessive and violated the 14th Amendment and the high court agree.
Fox News – Supreme Court curbs power of government to impose heavy fines and seize property – In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled to drastically curb the powers that states and cities have to levy fines and seize property, marking the first time the court has applied the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines at the state level.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who returned to the court for the first time in almost two months after undergoing surgery for lung cancer, wrote the majority opinion in the case involving an Indiana man who had his Land Rover seized after he was arrested for selling $385 of heroin.
“Protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history for good reason: Such fines undermine other liberties,” Ginsburg wrote. “They can be used, e.g., to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies. They can also be employed, not in service of penal purposes, but as a source of revenue.” …
First, I have to say I’m surprised that Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor and Breyer all ruled to support the Constitution, something they aren’t known for doing very often.
However, since it limits state and local governments, it makes sense.
Personally, I understand the importance of the 14th Amendment in limiting excessive fines and levies.
However, I personally believe that certain crimes require harsher than normal punishment and one of those crimes is selling illegal drugs.
In the case of Timbs, it may have only been $385 worth of heroin, but the impact of that heroin can impact a number of lives, including the families of the user and the victims that were robbed or mugged in order for the user to pay for the heroin.
In penalties were made much harsher for selling illegal drugs, it may deter some from trying it.
But, then, I’ve been told that if I were a judge, I would be a hanging judge.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.