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Short Circuit: A roundup of recent federal court decisions

Pet food puffery, suspiciously loud laughter, and the school of hard knocks.

Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.

Friends, Indiana's Constitution requires the revenue from "all forfeitures" to go to schools. But police and prosecutors in Indianapolis keep millions of dollars in forfeiture proceeds for their agencies, and a state trial court judge recently ruled that's okay because "all forfeitures" does not include civil forfeitures. This week, we asked the Indiana Supreme Court to take the case. Click here to read more.

  • In 2016, FTC staff issue "informal" letter that raises specter of $1 mil per month penalties for robocallers who use soundboards, a heretofore legal technology that helps manage multiple calls, enables callers to use pre-recorded audio clips. D.C. Circuit: The letter is not a final agency action; it's too soon to sue. Dissent: Plaintiffs may not be the most sympathetic, but the feds ought "not be able to transmogrify the mantle of 'staff advice' into both a sharp regulatory sword and a shield from judicial review."
  • Atlanta, Ga. nursing home employee testifies she did not vote her conscience in union election after someone in a crowd of demonstrators says, "If you don't vote yes for the Union, we will fuck you up." NLRB: More likely bravado or exuberance than an actual threat. D.C. Circuit: No need to revisit the NLRB's decision not to set aside the election result.
  • In "lesson straight out of the school of hard knocks," a sympathetic plaintiff—who was beaten over the head while on the job (causing PTSD, severe depression) and then denied an accommodation (fixed hours rather than rotating shifts)—cannot prevail in his Americans with Disabilities Act suit against his employer, says the First Circuit. Working in rotating shifts is an essential part of his job, assistant manager at a fast food chainin Puerto Rico.
  • Piqued that three Muslim men refuse to serve as informants, FBI agents place them on the "no fly" list. Second Circuit: The men can sue the officers for damages under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law enacted to protect religious liberty.
  • Taxi companies can't sue New York City over ridesharing, says the Second Circuit (citing a pair of IJ cases). Regulating Uber/Lyft differently than taxis doesn't violate equal protection, nor does due process protect cab companies against diminution in the value of their medallions. Moreover, the taxis can't proceed with their claim that said diminution is an unconstitutional taking of their property because they didn't first exhaust the claim in state court. State court (separate case, same claim, citing the same pair of IJ cases): Not an unconstitutional taking. (H/t: Daniel Lehmann.)
  • Lancaster County, Penn. man decides to deposit his life savings—$541k cash he'd previously kept at home—in bank. To avoid law requiring banks to report all cash transactions of $10k or more to the feds, he makes 58 deposits of under $10k at multiple banks. He's convicted of 58 counts of "structuring," gets 2–10 year sentence, and must forfeit all the money. Third Circuit: No constitutional problem there.
  • On receiving an application to operate a strip club, Rocky Mount, N.C.'s police chief must review "the entire body of municipal, state, federal, and common law" within 15 days so as to determine whether the applicant is in compliance. Fourth Circuit: Unconstitutional prior restraint. That gives the chief too much discretion.
  • Texas' revised voter ID law requires voters to either show photo ID or, under penalty of perjury, attest that obtaining photo ID is a hardship (for one of seven specified reasons). District court: The new law must be invalidated as the "tainted fruit" of the old, racially discriminatory law. Would-be voters may reasonably fear being prosecuted if their reading of what constitutes a hardship differs from prosecutors'. Fifth Circuit: Reversed. There's no evidence people are afraid to vote. People fill out forms under penalty of perjury all the time. Dissent: Forcing disproportionately African-American and Hispanic voters into a separate line to fill out extra paperwork is discriminatory.
  • At trial over allegedly defective hip implants, plaintiffs' attorney repeatedly emphasizes that two plaintiffs' experts, unlike the defense's, are testifying for free. The jury finds against the manufacturer and its parent company, which must pay $151 mil. But wait! The experts (surgeons who happen to be father and son) did not testify for free; plaintiffs' attorney concealed payments to them. District court: Yeah, but they only got paid a fraction of what defense witnesses got. Fifth Circuit: New trial. No $151 mil award. Separately, the district court also erred by allowing testimony about bribes to Saddam Hussein paid by another company (one of 265 in 60 countries and not a party to this litigation) owned by the parent company.
  • Officers enter Highland Park, Mich. pawn shop just before customer, decline to warn him they're responding to a silent burglar alarm. The robber shoots; the officers return fire and hit the customer in the buttocks. Sixth Circuit: The customer can't sue the officers.
  • Pet food packaging shows delectable lamb chops, steaks, and fish filets. But, you may (or may not) be surprised to learn, pet food is actually made from "trimmings," not prime cuts of meat. Sixth Circuit: "Puffery" is a fact of life. We see no problem here.
  • Two women laugh loudly in parked car, which draws the attention of Smyrna, Tenn. officer. A pat-down of one woman, who is not thrilled at being detained and speaks up about it, turns up a tiny bottle of liquor. Officers take her to ground, breaking her clavicle. Officer: After she kicked me. Woman: Didn't do that. Dashcam video: Inconclusive. State court: After confirming the women were laughing, not fighting, the officer shouldn't have continued the encounter. Dismiss all charges against her. Sixth Circuit: And she can sue for excessive force.
  • Train passenger opens his luggage for inspection by Nebraska officer, who then asks to reach into the bag. The passenger replies, "Um, I don't know why?" Not responding, the officer instead reaches in, finds contraband. Eighth Circuit (over a dissent): No need to suppress the evidence. The encounter was entirely voluntary and consensual.
  • University of Arkansas officials expel student, an Olympic long jumper, for sexual assault of fellow student. He's initially (mistakenly, say school officials) permitted to remain on campus for an additional semester, which would have allowed him to graduate. Eighth Circuit: Sovereign immunity does not bar the victim's Title IX suit against the school.
  • Los Angeles animal control: What are you keeping in those boxes? Homeless man: 18 pigeons, a crow, and a seagull. Animal control: *Takes the birds and kills most of them.* Ninth Circuit: Which would be fine, if the birds had been diseased or otherwise a danger to public health, but we are not convinced that was the case. Back to district court.
  • And in en banc news, the Ninth Circuit will not reconsider its holding that Montana's limits on campaign contributions are constitutional despite, says a dissent, a lack of evidence of the quid pro quo corruption the law is meant to address.

Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over $40k in cash from Anthonia Nwaorie, a registered nurse traveling from Houston to Nigeria, where she planned to use the money to open a medical clinic for women and children. Anthonia failed to declare the cash because she was unaware she was required to do so. (The requirement applies to departing travelers, but the gov't does little to publicize it (unlike a similar requirement for arriving travelers.)) However, CBP never charged Anthonia with a crime, nor did it initiate forfeiture before the 90-day deadline. So, by law, the money should automatically go back to her—and yet the CBP refuses to return it unless Anthonia waives her right to sue over the seizure. Today, Anthonia and IJ filed a federal class-action suit over the seizure and the CBP's practice of extracting unlawful settlement agreements from property owners. Click here to read more.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • PeteRR||

    I don't understand how structuring can be illegal if there's no underlying crime. Don't we have a right to privacy, even from the government?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Because Congress said so, that's why.

  • Noscitur a sociis||

    This case involved a conviction under Pennsylvania state law.

  • Deep Lurker||

    It's part of a more general movement against the presumption of innocence, as well as against any right to privacy or right against self-incrimination: Make laws and regulations requiring people to show that they haven't committed some evil act.

    It's not enough to be a non-felon to buy a gun, you have to submit to a background check to show that you're not a felon. It's not enough that the woman you took a cheesecake photo of is a big-breasted 30-something, you have to have paperwork to show that she's over 18. It's not enough to be a US citizen, you have to present documents to show that you're a citizen to be allowed to work. It's not enough to make wooden toys free of lead paint, you have to jump through hoops and show that your toys are lead-free before you're allowed to sell them. And so on and so forth, ad nauseum.

  • susancol||

    Thank you--cogently and succinctly put. Alas.

  • Longtobefree||

    You must be one of those drug dealers this was put in place to inconvenience.
    Or worse, a small business owner who does cash business the feds can't trace through credit card records.
    Or the absolute worst, a legal marijuana business.
    No need for an underlying crime, just make perfectly normal and legal things illegal and allow the fourth amendment to follow the second into oblivion.

    And no, you do not have any right to privacy from the government. Get back in line!

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Whether or not there's a right to economic privacy, if it is known that there was no underlying crime, the penalty is far, far outside the bounds of reason!

  • ||

    I agree that there are no constitutional problems with the 3rd Circuit structuring case, but there is a moral and philosophical problem that we don't have the right to do what we want with our cash without government permission. And the 8th Circuit case is beyond outrageous. No reasonable person could possibly interpret "I don't know why" to be consent to search.

  • bernard11||

    What about the excessive fines clause?

    The case is outrageous regardless. What kind of a$$hole prosecutor does that?

  • bernard11||

    Reading the decision, I find that the Eighth Amendment issue was addressed in an utterly bizarre fashion bgy the court.

    A divided panel of the Superior Court rejected .........the Eighth Amendment challenge, having
    decided the civil penalty was directly proportional to the gravity of Stoltzfoos's offense
    and the amount was half of the maximum fine that the sentencing court could have
    imposed."

    Two reasons, both absurd. "Directly proportional to the gravity" of the offense? Not filling out a form?

    "half of the maximum fine that the sentencing court could have
    imposed?"

    That misses the point entirely. So Congress can simply nullify the clause by setting whatever fines it likes? Does this judge have a brain?

  • Absaroka||

    I wish the structuring law had an 'ill gotten gains' element, or was abolished altogether and the underlying crimes were prosecuted.

    FWIW, I was curious why the prosecutors didn't use their discretion and googled the name. Mr. Stoltzfoos may not have been pure as the driven snow. I'm referring here to the "...Stoltzfoos had dozens of complimentary movie tickets, rain check movie tickets, check cards, video rental store cards, savings club cards ... a New York driver's license ...more than 3,000 movies and CDs still in cellophane wrappers. And, he had numerous store credit cards, given to him for items returned with no receipt".

    I dunno. Maybe he likes movies a lot. And, again, I wish they had to prove the underlying crimes. But my outrage cooled a little.

  • bernard11||

    OK, he may be a small-time conman, but all that doesn't come close to $500K, and the prosecution, and especially the sentence and forfeiture, smack of, "Well, if he didn't do it he did something else."

  • BillyG||

    You're assuming it was a prosecutor. So far, everytime I've read about this, it was an IRS Bureaucrat looking for anything resembling structuring so they can come in and seize the money.

  • James Pollock||

    " it was an IRS Bureaucrat looking for anything resembling structuring"

    Well, this case looked like structuring because that's what it was.

  • bernard11||

    I don't know who it was, but it takes a prosecutor to bring charges, doesn't it?

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    " What kind of a$$hole prosecutor does that?"

    Well, I guess if the forfeited money goes to the prosecutor's office, then everything is swell.

  • Larvell Blanks||

    Good grief, what kind of a non-evil prosecutor would want to steal a man's life savings just because he deposited it in small increments, without any suggestion that he obtained the money illegally? I hope that guy can't sleep at night, he's a horrible human being.

  • Krayt||

    And even assuming the logic behind the law, that they're trying to hide illegal money, the seizure of money should be tied to its demonstrated illegality. Merely breaking this law does not turn the money into illegal contraband, nor is its seizure, dollar-for-dollar, a proportional punishment.

  • James Pollock||

    The cover-up IS the crime.

  • Finrod||

    This is exactly the kind of scenario where someone snaps and goes on a mass killing spree of everyone involved in stealing their life savings, and it's hard to blame them.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    As is depressingly customary, in general the Republican judges take the authoritarian line and Democratic judges choose the libertarian position in these reports, especially (but not exclusively and not uniformly) in the context of nanny state criminal law enforcement.

    (I had seven links to illustrate this comment, but was informed this "libertarian" website enforces a two-link maximum. The Volokh Conspiracy's censorship and reason.com's link policing are curious attributes of an ostensible "libertarian" forum.)

  • gormadoc||

    I give you an A. While the second paragraph was over-the-top weird it was also hilarious.

  • Rev. Arthur Ꮮ. Kirkland||

    While everybody knows the seventh chapter of Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia goes on and on about the right to spam web links in a comment, the Rothbard/Hayek Individualism and the Philosophy of the Social Sciences definitively showed that, in fact, consistent libertarianism only requires allowing commenters two links under the limited circumstance that the website's owner is a non-profit foundation.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The 4:58 comment was legitimate. The 6:44 comment is the work of a Volokh Conspiracy puppet, faux libertarian, and faux Kirkland I call Bigoted Right-Wing Mini-Me.

    Carry on, clingers. With or without a libertarian costume or Kirkland costume.

  • Rev. Arthur Ꮮ. Kirkland||

    If I'm I'm Mini-Me, wouldn't that mean you're Dr. Evil?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I'm your better, you bigoted, half-educated, authoritarian, right-wing rube.

    Prof. Volokh seems to like you better than he likes me, though. And these guys wonder why good schools don't hire more of them.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    Lol. You can always tell your betters because they feel obliged to tell you, "I'm your better."

  • FlameCCT||

    Reminds me of that old show; To Tell The Truth.

    Will the real Royal Arse Kisser please stand up!

  • ReaderY||

    He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy.

  • tkamenick||

    This is the most entertaining thing I've ever seen in these comments.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    The most amusing part is he actually seems to believe that people will believe he's having the conversation with someone hijacking his ID instead of himself parodying his highly biased view of conservatives.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I would prefer that Right-Wing Mini-Me would go away. I also wish Prof. Volokh would explain why his censorship bureau banned Artie Ray Lee Wayne Jim-Bob Kirkland yet permits an impersonator to continue to comment. Mainly because I hope the reason is something other than low-grade partisanship. I still have hope for Prof. Volokh to get past his movement conservative phase.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    You aren't fooling anyone, except yourself.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I know the score. Prof. Volokh knows the score. That's plenty for me. What a faux libertarian with a taste for stale right-wing authoritarianism thinks doesn't much matter, as usual.

  • Rev. Arthur Ꮮ. Kirkland||

    And I would have preferred that you hadn't taken the moving of the Volokh Conspiracy to Reason as an opportunity to start spreading your excrement all over Reason comments threads (we were just fine having "Palin's Buttplug" filling your niche alllllll on his own).

    But if you're going insist on coming in and stinking up a place I've been happily been mostly-lurking in for over a decade, Dr. Evil, I'm going to take action to make it fun for me again.

    Just think of me as the welcome wagon!

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Your preference for a snowflake-friendly safe space -- at an ostensibly libertarian site -- for disaffected, intolerant, socially inept, right-wing goobers masquerading as libertarians is noted.

    And disdained.

    Your preferences for backwardness, bigotry, superstition, and ignorance also similarly noted. And scoffed at, because guys like you lose over all but the shorter terms in America. The liberal-libertarian alliance has seen to that throughout my lifetime, and will continue to thwart your preferences for at least another generation or two.

    Carry on, clinger. And thank you for highlighting Prof. Volokh's selective, partisan censorship.

  • ducksalad||

    The bank is required to report transactions over $10,000. This guy was caught because the bank reported transactions *under* $10,000. He was clearly trying to avoid being reported, but he failed to actually avoid it. Now that it's all over the Internet this fact is well known.

    Question: can the next guy that does this (using the same bank) say that he knew, as public knowledge, that the bank would report transactions under $10,000 anyway, and therefore, he was not avoiding?

  • Variant||

    And can the government limit the number of banks in which I can deposit my money? What is that number?

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    There have been a number of cases in which people have been prosecuted for making multiple under-the-limit deposits. Clearly, someone's always watching. The deposit limit's sole /practical/ function is to identify people who try to avoid it.

    "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside of Big Brother's view. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (with apologies to Matthew 10:29-30)

  • FlameCCT||

    Hell, there have been a number of cases of the feds and banks going after legitimate businesses for making multiple deposits under $10K.

  • susancol||

    Indeed. In a "government is not evil" world, it would be incredible that a business whose insurer forbids the business to have more than $10,000 on hand would be prosecuted and have all their bank accounts forfeited (civilly) for complying with the insurer's mandate. Alas, we live in a different world, where the same thing has happened several times.

  • KenveeB||

    The description in the 8th Circuit case is a little misleading. The argument wasn't that "I don't know why" was consent. It was that the officer said "Can I look in your bag?" and the defendant opened his bag and moved things around so the officer could see inside it. "I don't know why" isn't consent, but it's not refusing consent either. The court based its opinion off his actions, not those words.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Was it affirmative consent?

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Yes means yes. No?

  • susancol||

    No, every escalation requires separate affirmative consent. I'm having trouble believing a Title IX university proceeding would find that a female person's "I don't know, why?" indicated affirmative consent for a male person's next step on the sexual ladder.

  • FlameCCT||

    Where is the damn thumbs up when it's needed!

  • KenveeB||

    It wasn't separate escalations. It was "Would you mind opening your bag so I can look?" The reply is asking why but at the same time opening the bag. I don't see how anyone could say that's DENYING consent. If I ask someone to do something and they do it but ask why at the same time, that's not denying consent. To use your sexual ladder example, if a man asks a woman to have sex with him and she asks why but still has sex with him without bothering to wait on an answer, would you say that's rape? If the why was that important, she would've waited for an answer before actually doing it.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Texas' revised voter ID law requires voters to either show photo ID or, under penalty of perjury, attest that obtaining photo ID is a hardship (for one of seven specified reasons). District court: The new law must be invalidated as the "tainted fruit" of the old, racially discriminatory law. Would-be voters may reasonably fear being prosecuted if their reading of what constitutes a hardship differs from prosecutors'. Fifth Circuit: Reversed. There's no evidence people are afraid to vote. People fill out forms under penalty of perjury all the time. Dissent: Forcing disproportionately African-American and Hispanic voters into a separate line to fill out extra paperwork is discriminatory.


    I wonder if the dissent would consider all gun control laws to be tainted.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    It might depend upon whether gun control laws were motivated by backwardness and bigotry, as the Texas voter suppression laws were.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    So the answer is yes.

    The only motivations for gun control laws are backwardness and bigotry.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Guns nuts are among my favorite right-wing nuts. In part because they will serve a useful purpose by precipitating the backlash that bring sensible gun safety laws to America.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    So then the 1934 National Forearms Act and the 1968 Gun Control Act are not sensible gun safety laws?

    Are you implying those laws should be repealed?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Was the '34 Act you mentioned the one that caused problems for Mr. Clean, Jose Canseco, and Hans and Franz?

  • Brightly||

    "It might depend upon whether gun control laws were motivated by backwardness and bigotry, as the Texas voter suppression laws were."

    Except they weren't, and the plaintiffs were not even able to find someone who might be suppressed by it. You just cling to bad data and arguments.

    Carry on, delusional clinger.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Every time a right-wing goober misappropriates that line, I know I have won.

    Keep up the good work, my faux libertarian friends!

  • Brightly||

    "Every time a right-wing goober misappropriates that line, I know I have won."

    Wrong, every time you utter it, you open yourself to your own hypocrisy of clinging.

    Carry on, delusional clinger.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I cling to reason, science, tolerance, inclusivity, and modernity. That's why American progress follows my preferences, against the wishes and efforts of those who favor the contrary, clinging to guns, god, and illusory good old days as our society leaves them behind.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "I cling to reason, science, tolerance, inclusivity, and modernity."

    Not once going all the way back to the original VC site have you ever demonstrated any understanding of what those words mean.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Conservatives and faux libertarians seem to dislike my comments, much as they have disliked American progress.

    I am content.

  • susancol||

    You should, perhaps, check out "The Racist Roots of Gun Control", in the Winter 1995 Journal of Law and Public Policy. Or, the concurring opinion to a 1941 FL Supreme Court decision, stating, "I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied."

  • FlameCCT||

    It might depend upon whether the gun control laws are motivated by racism and bigotry, as the Progressive Democrat Jim Crow laws and past Progressive gun control laws that denied millions of POC including MLK their 2A Constitutional Rights!

  • Brightly||

    "People fill out forms under penalty of perjury all the time. Dissent: Forcing disproportionately African-American and Hispanic voters into a separate line to fill out extra paperwork is discriminatory."

    The problem with this dissent is that these groups themselves have either walked into this disparity simply by being newcomers to the system through recent legal immigration or through inaction such as not registering before. The idea that we cannot do anything that has disparate impact is itself discriminatory as it immunizes only certain races from any policy of having a reflection of a shadow of a mirage of maybe forcing deleterious impact.

  • JonFrum||

    A famous Harvard professor came to my grad school to talk at the student's invitation. He told us that he had testified in a case regarding DNA evidence. The opposing lawyer asked him how much he had been paid, and made a big production out of it. So next time, when he testified in a similar case, he did it pro bono. This time, the opposing lawyer elicited the fact, and went on to attack him for obviously having ulterior motives - why else would he testify for free?

  • Beldar||

    Puffery has whole song & dance routine devoted to it, courtesy of Alan Lerner in what's allegedly the longest song-title used in a Hollywood film: How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life? I adore it.

  • eyesay||

    Thanks for the link!

  • Eidde||

    "In 2016, FTC staff issue "informal" letter that raises specter of $1 mil per month penalties for robocallers who use soundboards, a heretofore legal technology that helps manage multiple calls, enables callers to use pre-recorded audio clips. D.C. Circuit: The letter is not a final agency action; it's too soon to sue. Dissent: Plaintiffs may not be the most sympathetic, but the feds ought "not be able to transmogrify the mantle of 'staff advice' into both a sharp regulatory sword and a shield from judicial review.""

    First they came for the robocallers, but I didn't give a flip because I hate robocallers.

    So when they screwed me over on a technicality regarding final agency action, I had nobody left to speak for me.

  • David Nieporent||

    Dissent: Forcing disproportionately African-American and Hispanic voters into a separate line to fill out extra paperwork is discriminatory.

    The word 'disproportionately' does a lot of work in this sentence. I haven't looked at Texas specifically, but the ID possession differences are typically quite small in these cases. It'll be something like 98% of eligible white voters and 96% of eligible minority voters possess the required IDs. That is indeed disproportionate, but the actual differences are minor. Most of the people in said "separate line" will in fact be white.

  • ReaderY||

    On the NYC taxi/Uber conflict, it seemed to me that the taxi owners' best case was to try to persuade the NY state courts that the administrative interpretation excluding what Uber does from the definition of "hail" was invalid. Their argument seemed plausible, as it does seem a bit odd to call something "e-hail" and then say "e-hail" is an electronic way of doing a hail for one purpose but not for another. However, the NY courts appear to be quite deferential to administrative agencies on matters of statutory interpretation, and that ends the matter. I agree they aren't entitled to a broad interpretation of their exclusive right to accept "street hails," nor to make a profit on their highly speculative medallion investments, as a matter of constitutional right, any more than people with exclusive rights to operate horse-and-buggy rigs could exclude automobiles from the streets just because they didn't anticipate their invention when they bid for the licenses.

  • eyesay||

    The New York TImes reported on structuring on October 25, 2014, Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required:

    On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice [going after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without allegation that they have committed serious crimes and without filing a criminal complaint], focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by "exceptional circumstances."

    Richard Weber, the chief of Criminal Investigation at the I.R.S., said in a written statement, "This policy update will ensure that C.I. continues to focus our limited investigative resources on identifying and investigating violations within our jurisdiction that closely align with C.I.'s mission and key priorities."

    -

    Either the IRS lied to The New York Times and never intended to curtail the practice, or it later changed its mind. The article also says:

    Banks are not permitted to advise customers that their deposit habits may be illegal or educate them about structuring unless they ask, in which case they are given a federal pamphlet, Ms. Van Steenwyk said. "We're not allowed to tell them anything," she said.

    -

    "We're not allowed to tell them anything" violates the 1st Amendment!

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