House Passes Walberg Amendment to Rein in Civil Forfeiture Abuse
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan amendment offered by Congressmen Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) that reins in the federal government’s power to seize private property without due process. The amendment prohibits funding to implement the Department of Justice’s recently announced expansion of civil forfeiture, which reversed a previous ban on the practice of adoptive seizures. Congressmen Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) also sponsored the bipartisan amendment. Click here to watch Walberg’s remarks on the House floor.
“Under current civil forfeiture law, the system is ripe for abuse and has undermined the constitutional rights of far too many Americans. We should not accept a system where the government can seize innocent people’s property without charging them with a crime,” said Congressman Walberg. “This bipartisan amendment takes an important step in halting the practice of adoptive seizures, protecting the rights of states and localities, and limiting some future abuses. Ultimately, Congress must cement more comprehensive reforms into law, including those called for in my bipartisan bill, the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act.”
“I am pleased that the House passed our bipartisan amendment to stop Attorney General Sessions from implementing his recent directive to make it easier for law enforcement to seize people’s property and cash. When I was the Memphis Police Legal Advisor, I saw firsthand how civil asset forfeiture could be misused, and I have been working to correct this issue since the 1990s when I was a Tennessee State Senator. In Congress, I am proud to work with Rep. Walberg on this amendment as well as bipartisan legislation to eliminate the financial incentive for these kind of forfeitures and increase the standard of proof that that prosecutors need to meet. This has been a cash register system of ‘justice’ with injuries to both law enforcement and the citizenry. Under this system, a citizen can lose property to forfeiture without ever having been arrested, much less convicted. It is past time to do away with these unfair practices,” said Congressman Cohen.
Congressman Walberg has long championed bipartisan legislation to protect private property rights and reform our nation's civil forfeiture laws. He first introduced legislative reforms in July 2014 in direct response to a series of incidents involving innocent property owners having their property seized by federal officials, including a longtime grocer in Michigan, Terry Dehko. In January 2015, he joined with Senator Rand Paul to introduce the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, which they reintroduced in January 2017 to start the 115th Congress.