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Walberg, Raskin Lead Bipartisan Push to Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

April 27, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C.—U.S Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) on Monday reintroduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act), a series of sweeping reforms to our nation’s civil asset forfeiture laws. The FAIR Act, H.R. 2857, will 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.
 
“Under the current system, it is too easy for the government to seize a citizen’s private property without ever charging them with a crime,” said Congressman Walberg. “We have been sounding the alarm about civil asset forfeiture abuse for years, and meaningful reforms are long overdue at the federal level. The FAIR Act brings much-needed change to the status quo. Our legislation provides critical protections for all Americans and their right to due process under the Constitution, and I thank my colleagues for their leadership on this bipartisan effort.”
 
“Reforming America’s civil asset forfeiture laws is a constitutional imperative that goes right to the heart of our Bill of Rights,” said Congressman Raskin. “I’m thrilled to reintroduce the FAIR Act with Congressman Walberg. I thank our colleagues for joining this bipartisan effort to uphold due process rights and rein in the nation’s reckless asset forfeiture policies.”
 
Joining Walberg and Raskin as original co-sponsors of the FAIR Act are Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND).
 
“The vast majority of Americans who have their assets seized in civil forfeiture cases are never charged with a crime. As civil forfeiture has ballooned over the past three decades, minorities and low-income communities have suffered most. Reforming our broken policing system is a top priority for me and the current civil asset forfeiture system stands out as unjust, unfair, and unacceptable. I am proud to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to reform civil asset forfeiture and reverse the perverse financial incentives that aid and abet abuse of this system,” said Congressman Rush.
 
“The current process of civil asset forfeiture is in direct contradiction to the basic premise of American justice: an individual is innocent until proven guilty.  As such, civil asset forfeiture violates the rights guaranteed to Americans under the Constitution.  I am pleased to cosponsor the FAIR Act, which returns the presumption of innocence to American citizens,” said Congressman McClintock.

“Under no circumstance should we have a system that undermines the civil liberties that are provided to Americans in our Constitution,” said Congressman Cárdenas. “It is outrageous that current federal civil forfeiture laws allow the ability to seize and take property from someone who has not been convicted of a crime. The bipartisan Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act) provides long-overdue reforms that ensure due process for every American. It’s time we put an end to civil asset forfeiture abuse and restore the balance of power back to individual citizens once and for all.”
 
“Civil asset forfeiture is an important tool, but it needs drastic reform,” said Congressman Armstrong. “Innocent until proven guilty has little meaning if law enforcement can seize all of your assets before you ever appear in a court on a criminal charge. This bill takes important steps such as ending equitable sharing and providing additional due process to protect private property from unjust seizure. I am honored to cosponsor this bipartisan bill.”
 
The text of H.R. 2857 is available here

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