“How Much Private Property is the Government Stealing in Your State?”

Writing at Big Government, Bob Ewing of the Institute for Justice explains how asset forfeiture laws put property rights at risk and calls on citizens in every state to help IJ's attorneys fight back:

Our forfeiture campaign follows in the footsteps of our eminent domain work.  In courtrooms across the country, we will keep fighting the government to secure the bedrock American principle of private property rights.

Even though IJ has had tremendous success in courts, eminent domain abuse was stopped in large part by grassroots activists.  We desperately need a similar grassroots backlash against civil forfeiture.  Simply put, we need your help.

Here’s one of the examples of asset forfeiture from Ewing’s piece:

As a 77-year-old woman living alone with multiple medical problems, Margaret [Davis] left her Pennsylvania home unlocked so her neighbors could regularly check on her.  One day while the police were chasing alleged drug dealers through her neighborhood, they all ran through Margaret’s house. 

The dealers dropped some of their stash on Margaret’s floor, in plain sight.
Instead of apologizing to Margaret for the traumatic experience, the government seized her house.

Read the rest here. Radley Balko reports on the asset forfeiture racket here.

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  • ||

    Wow, thats downright scary when you think about it.

    Lou
    www.real-privacy.at.tc

  • ||

    She plainly was the mastermind. A regular Kathryn Johnston.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

  • Old Mexican||

    “How Much Private Property is the Government Stealing in Your State?”

    You silly goose - there's NO private property in the United States of America.

  • Max||

    You only have your own property because the government has set up regulations allowing it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Max,

    You only have your own property because the government has set up regulations allowing it.

    Makes as much sense as saying that I have free will because God wanted me to have free will.

    You're an idiot, Max - you can't even make decent assertions.

  • Max||

    If you want to protect your "private" property, how would you do it? You go to court - which is a system set up by government. If not for government providing you protection, you couldn't private property.

    If not for government allowing it, nobody would be able to have "private" property.

    Besides, why should greedy right-wingers have the "right" to hoard big chunks of land and tell anyone else they can't use it? Land is part of nature and you can't own that forever.

  • ||

    And you can't. They don't call it the Rule Against Perpetuities for nothing.

  • Jay Dead||

    Why should the government hoard big chunks of land and tell anyone else they can't use it?

  • Leroy||

    If you want to protect your "private" property, how would you do it?

    With a little help from Mr. Remington.

  • The Gobbler||

    + 870

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Showoff.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Max,

    If you want to protect your "private" property, how would you do it? You go to court - which is a system set up by government.

    See? This is what happens when you don't think. In order for the court to protect your property, you would have to have PROPERTY in the first place. YOU, on the other hand, are arguing that we have property BECAUSE there are regulations and courts in place.

    If not for government providing you protection, you couldn't [have] private property.

    Insanely simple, right? Government: Let there be private property; and Government saw that it was good.

    Only that government does NOT protect your private property, Max. At BEST, it can only settle disputes. At worst, it takes it from you. YOU protect your property as I protect mine, otherwise you would not put locks in your house doors (or maybe you think government will keep your doors safe, sweetheart?)

    If not for government allowing it, nobody would be able to have "private" property.

    You're begging the question, Max. Oh, that's a logical fallacy, in case you don't know.

    Besides, why should greedy right-wingers have the "right" to hoard big chunks of land and tell anyone else they can't use it?

    It must be because the government allows it. Right, Max?

    Land is part of nature and you can't own that forever.

    SO MUCH for the "government allows you to have private property" canard. NOW it is "You can't have it because it belongs to the bears and the birds."

    Nice going there, kiddo. Don't forget to take your Thorazine on your way out.

  • WTF||

    sock puppetry can be fun.

  • Untermensch||

    Big Government should really link to items like that, rather than just describing them. That one sounded beyond belief, but a Google search turned up what they should have linked to and revealed that:

    1. It’s even more bizarre than the Big Government summary: drugs were seized in her house twice because suspects dropped or concealed them there while trying to escape.

    2. Unfortunately for the presentation in the article, the government did not seize her house. They filed a petition to do so, but then dropped it (after over two years). (The facts of the matter are bad enough without misstating them: That they didn’t link to any sources suggests to me that they may have been aware that the facts of the matter didn’t support their assertion and they were hoping nobody would notice.)

    So, yes, asset forfeiture is bad, but Big Government is either being very sloppy or deliberately misleading in their choice of example. That bothers me because using such an easily debunked case (one that would be bad enough on its true merits) can easily lead readers out there to assume that there are no real cases of abuse (otherwise, why not point to them) and will discredit anyone who uses this case without knowing that her house was not, in fact, seized.

  • Untermensch||

    I missed that the author is actually working for the IJ. That makes the significant misstatement of fact that contradicts the IJ’s own materials even more curious.

    For the record, here is what IJ wrote previously:

    The matter should have ended there, but in September 2001 the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office filed a motion to seize the home even though Davis was not a party to any drug dealing.[…] In April, as the case was working its way through court, police chased another suspect into Davis’ house and caught him attempting to hide drugs. Fortunately, Davis’ attorney was able to reach an agreement with the District Attorney’s office, which withdrew the petition in November of 2003. (emphasis added)

    Hard to square that with “the government seized her house.”

    Again, I’m not arguing that the fact that they tried to seize her house is morally abhorrent in a free society and that the government agents who even allowed such an action to go forward in the slightest should have been imprisoned for criminal actions undertaken under color of law.

  • -||

    “the government seized her house.”

    Propaganda is hard.

  • robc||

    Two comments:

    1. I agree entirely with you

    2. It really doesnt matter - because the problem isnt that asset forfeiture is abused, it is that it exists at all.
    Even when used "properly", it is wrong.

  • Untermensch||

    You’ll get no argument from me on those points. My objection is really that this sort of sloppiness can do more harm than good. Unfortunately a lot of Americans don’t care about the Constitution and its protections if it’s the “bad guys” who are getting screwed over. If you get a few exceptions, I suppose that they would mention something about eggs and an omelette…

  • ||

    They should have said "the government tried to seize her house". But that is just as bad. God only knows the amount of legal fees this woman had to pay and stress she had to suffer to keep her house. And the scumbag DA who filed a frivolous suit will never pay any price.

  • ||

    So tell me again, what are the advantages of home ownership?

  • Old Mexican||

    So tell me again, what are the advantages of home ownership?

    The advantages reside in giving the politician the opportunity to take the credit for it.

    "Under my administration, home ownership has gone up, giving more families the opportunity to own an asset for their future."

    What other advantages could there be to own a money pit and the main course of termintes is beyond me, but at least the booboisie (and the complicit media) swallow every bit of it: lock, stock and barrel.

  • Pip||

    Ya get to keep a dog. A really big dog.

  • SWAT||

    We'll take care of that for you.

  • WTF||

    It provides a good place to stockpile firearms, ammo and clean water.

  • ||

    I'd go beyond that.Having to pay a yearly tax on property you own is almost as bad.If you need to pay a fee to the government on your house each year you do not own it.Your house can be taken for owing a debt that is far smaller then the worth of the property.

  • ||

    I'd go beyond that.Having to pay a yearly tax on property you own is almost as bad.If you need to pay a fee to the government on your house each year you do not own it.Your house can be taken for owing a debt that is far smaller then the worth of the property.

  • d'SeverSquirrel of the my mind||

    So, what do you think about property taxes, then?

  • Coke Zero||

    As a 77-year-old woman living alone with multiple medical problems, Margaret [Davis] left her Pennsylvania home unlocked so her neighbors could regularly check on her.

    Not to sound callous or anything, but she didn't think to simply distribute a key instead of leaving her house unlocked? Leaving one's house unlocked is just asking for the government to seize it!

  • Untermensch||

    They might as well seize most of the town I live in then…

  • Untermensch||

    And I happen to like that I live in a town like that.

  • Upgrayyed||

    They left the door open...

  • hmm||

    “How Much Private Property is the Government Stealing in Your State?”

    Too much.

    Do I get a cookie now?

  • Bugs||

    Never knew a gangster half as ruthless as your typical cop.

  • ||

    http://www.economist.com/node/16636027

    Great and depressing article.

  • Warty||

    You don't think that orchid collector deserved to go to jail for a year and a half? What are you, John, soft on crime?

  • ||

    I am a regular bleeding heart pinko.

  • hmm||

    I think this was the guy on Penn and Teller's BS. Along with the guy in a wheel chair, who had 3 kids and a wife, that went to prison for his legally prescribed pain medication.

  • ola||

    Once the drug war has ended, a war crimes tribunal will be set up.

  • ||

    Reason does itself no credibility favors by associating with the dishonest right wing hatchet man, Andrew Breitbart.

    Laws allowing asset forfeiture sans criminal conviction need to be overturned. It is an important issue that offends justice and engenders police and prosecutorial corruption. It's an issue for serious adults, having Breitbart on your side is best ignored.

  • ||

    Ad homonym much? Breitbart has done more damage to the mainstream media and thus to the forces of statism in a year than Reason has done in its entire existence.

    What are angry that he didn't run a whole video that he didn't have? Reason posters love to talk about standing up to the government and the press. But whenever anyone actually does that, they won't defend them. You have no balls J sub D.

  • ||

    Reason does itself no credibility favors by associating with the dishonest right wing hatchet man, Andrew Breitbart.

    Breitbart is an activist. He will tell you so himself, in fact.

    And his record of effectiveness is quite impressive. SEIU's blood running in the gutters? That was him. Our first honest conversation on race in decades? Him again. He's basically told the power structure and its sycophants, "Hey, you wanna use gutter tactics? Okey-dokey." We could use more like him.

    There was nothing dishonest in either of his big takedowns.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Ad homonym : A self-describing mis-spelling.

    Awesome.

    But I agree with you on Breitbart. If you think he is full of crap, say why he is full of crap (as was done correctly, further up-thread). If you think he is full of crap too often to be always taken at face value, then fine, don't always take him at face value. Other than that, I don't think he needs any "shunning" or anytthing.

  • ||

    That was Ewing from IJ posting at biggovernment. He should issue a correction, and Breitbart is partly responsible since it was a post on his site and not a link. But hey it´s not like new media has the endless layers of fact-checking that the MSM has! Inaccuracies are noticed and made public and hopefully corrected.

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