Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, just got a stinging rebuke from his own party over a controversial policy dispute that has largely gone under the radar of the national media.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that today the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill containing an amendment which blocks funding for the federal government’s participation in the controversial police practice of civil asset forfeiture, under which the authorities can confiscate property believed to have been involved in criminal activity, even if the owner of the property has not been charged with any crime — a practice that raises obvious due-process and property-rights problems.
Opposition to civil asset forfeiture seems to be a rare issue of bipartisan consensus — the amendment is the work of Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and John Conyers (D-MI), and has the support of over twenty organizations from all across the political spectrum:
In July, Sessions reimplemented a pre-existing Department of Justice rule permitting what is known as “federal adoption” of civilly forfeited assets. That program allows state and local police agencies to seek civil asset forfeiture under federal, rather than state law; it is useful to those police offices in jurisdictions which have clamped down on civil asset forfeiture. Under federal adoption, the federal government retains 20 percent of forfeited assets’s value, while the other 80 percent are paid back to the state or local police.
Sessions’s order superseded that of his predecessor, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who essentially shut down the use of federal adoption during his tenure as Attorney General.
Now, if Raskin and co.’s amendment makes it through to the final bill, the Justice Department will be blocked from using any of the funds appropriated to it to run its federal adoption program.
TFPP has been following the issue since the beginning of the Trump Administration, and has called on Attorney General Sessions to reconsider his position. As TFPP’s Seth Connell wrote in January, after citing a handful of horror stories:
In each of these cases, and there are countless others like them, the accused is not granted their fundamental rights of due process of law under the Fifth Amendment. There is no arrest, no indictment, no bail or bond, no right to counsel, no trial by a jury, or even a conviction in a court of law.
No, the only conviction in these cases is in the assumptive minds of the officers, who, merely on suspicion, arrest, indict, try, and convict these people all in one fell-swoop.
And getting out of such a position is extremely difficult, and I will emphasize it for the sake of clarity: it is extremely difficult to get out of such a situation.
To be clear, we at TFPP of course remain stalwart supporters of the Trump Administration’s work to make America great again, we are huge fans of Jeff Sessions’ work to crack down on illegal immigration, and take a backseat to nobody in defending him from the Left’s libelous charges of racism. However, honest conservatives have to be willing to call out their friends when they do the wrong thing, and this issue is a golden example.
Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.