SCOTUS restricts civil forfeiture!

candle.pngIn the swirling fog that is the 24/7 news cycle, sometimes really important things can be lost. On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, the Supreme Court issued their opinion in Timbs v. Indiana. In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether state governments must comply with the Eighth Amendment: ‘Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.’ For the record, this particular liberty dates all the way back to the Magna Carta.

Historically, the 14th Amendment was ratified to ensure that the individual liberties found in the Bill of Rights would also be protected against infringement by state governments. In prior cases, SCOTUS held that most of the protections in the Bill of Rights do apply to the states, but it had not specifically ruled on the Excessive Fines Clause. Noting this exception, the Indiana Supreme Court announced that it would “decline” to impose “a federal test” on Indiana in the absence of a direct command by the U.S. Supreme Court.

At the heart of this controversy is something called civil asset forfeiture, a process that has often been referred to as legalized theft. If an individual is simply accused of a crime, and not necessarily charged or convicted, their assets may be seized through a civil proceeding. It appears it is not necessary to prove these assets have a direct connection to the crime in question: dubious allegations seem to suffice. And there is this: civil proceedings do not afford the accused the due process safeguards found in criminal law. For too many years, this process has been used by various governmental and law enforcement agencies to guarantee for themselves a profitable revenue stream.

But, on February 20, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court for the first time prohibited all 50 states from imposing excessive fines, holding that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “excessive fines” applies to the states under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Seldom do all nine justices agree to restrict the power that police and prosecutors exert over individuals. While the decision will no doubt generate a myriad of questions, and likely be the basis for other court filings, there is much to celebrate.

The majority opinion was authored by Justice Ginsburg. Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

References
SCOTUS blog
Timbs v Indiana
Slate

Add your reaction Share

ACTION ALERT!!

Despite the Democrats' sweep of statewide offices in the last election, Republicans in the legislature are planning a special session for Tuesday, December 4, to "limit Wisconsin early voting [and] strip powers from Tony Evers and Josh Kaul" (see the details in the Journal Sentinel). Your state senator and assembly representative need to hear from their constituents. Let them know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS how damaging to our democracy such moves are.

The Lame Duck Session time line: This Monday, Dec 3 12:30 at the Capitol please attend if you can), there is a public hearing followed by a closed session of the legislature. (it is believed the 'public hearing' has been given 1 minute only, then the closed session will start.) A vote is scheduled for Tuesday.  Truly an effort to divorce the people from the process. 

Bottom Line, while the state overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, and the Democrats won all the statewide races on Nov. 6th, the gerrymandering left us with a Republican house and senate (despite the majority of the votes over all for Dems.)  Thus the lame duck session, which allows the Republicans to vote on (and Scott Walker to sign) legislation to control Democratic power moving forward.

We need to say to the Republicans who may still have an ounce of integrity that they should VOTE NO and/or walk out of this subversion of Democracy.

What are they planning to do?

  • limit voting - limit early voting to two weeks;
  • limit governor and attorney general powers, by putting more powers in the hands of the (Republican controlled) legislature.
    • Immediate effect, Evers will not have the power to expand the Affordable care act and provide improved health care for all Wisconsin citizens.
    • The legislature will decide on adding (an expensive and unneeded) third election day this spring, hoping for a conservative vote on a Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate (assuming low voter turn out).
    • The legislature will have the power to change individual income tax rates without input from the governor (executive branch).
    • The office of solicitor general will be eliminated; this office oversees high profile litigation. 
    • The governor could not disband WEDC (and replace it with a Commerce Department).  In addition, WEDC will be controlled by the legislature and not by the governor.

Please Call

Senator Alberta Darling (608) 266-5830 
Email  Sen.darling@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Jim Ott (608) 266-0486
Email   Rep.OttJ@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Dan Knodl (608) 266-3796
Email   Rep.Knodl@legis.wi.gov

Be sure to give your name, address, phone number when calling or emailing because they want to make sure you are their district.

Add your reaction Share

How We Win

johnNichols3.jpeg

John Nichols — the Voice of the Wisconsin Resistance, national-affairs correspondent for The Nation, the associate editor of the Capital Times, and a national treasure — will get us charged up and engaged in the 2018 campaign with his talk titled "How We Win" on Sunday, October 14, at the Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire St., Milwaukee 53211.

Please RSVP so we know to expect you. And you can contribute to the cause either online or at the door.

There will be food trucks outside beginning at 5 pm, doors open 5:30 pm. (And the Packers game against the 49ers is not until Monday night!)

1 reaction Share

Early Voting Information for North Shore Fall 2018 Elections

Early Voting Information*

 

Municipality Phone Start Date Days Hours
Bayside 414-351-8811 October 25

Mon - Fri

Monday, October 8: 

Monday, October 22 

8 am-4:30 pm

Until 6:00pm

Until 6:00pm

Brown Deer 414-371-3003 October 22 Mon - Fri 8 am-4:30 pm
Cedarburg (Town and City)

262-375-7600

262-375-7606

October 15 Mon - Fri 8 am-4:30 pm
Fox Point 414-351-8900

October 22, 2018

October 25

Mon - Fri

Thursday

8 am-4:00 pm

8 am-6:00 pm

Glendale 414-228-1718

October 1 (with following additions):

October 17

October 20

October 23

Mon - Fri

Wednesday

Saturday

Tuesday

 

8 am- 4:30 pm

7:00 am - 7:00 pm

8 am - noon

7:00 am - 7:00 pm

 

Town of Grafton 262-375-5300 October 22

Mon - Thurs

Fridays

8 am-4:30 pm

8:30 am-noon

Village of Grafton 262-375-5000 October 15 Mon - Fri 8 am-4:30 pm
Mequon 262-242-3100 Now Mon - Fri 8 am-4:00 pm
River Hills 414-352-8213 October 22 Mon - Fri 8 am-4:30 pm
Shorewood

414-847-2700

414-847-2601

October 1 Mon - Fri 8 am-4:30 pm
Whitefish Bay 962-6690 October 22 Mon - Fri 8 am-4:30 pm

*On Friday, November 2, all polling places are open until 5 pm.

Add your reaction Share

Did you miss the Governors Forum?

If you could not make it to the Forum, no problem.  You can catch highlights in a video created by the Wisconsin Video Hub.

Add your reaction Share

Governors Forun

Add your reaction Share

FOCUS ON IMMIGRATION

 

“What then is the American, this new man? I could point out to you a man whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations….The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles…. This is an American.”  Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur (1770, approx.)

Find out how to affect the national conversation about immigration and immigrants who depend on receiving the same opportunities offered to our forefathers. Join us on Sunday, April 29th at 4:30 for a night focusing on the past and present of immigration in the United States.

*Hear knowledgeable speakers – Professor Rachel Buff (History Department, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee); Ms. Kelly Fortier (Immigration Lawyer), and a representative from Voces de la Frontera.

*Bring and share an ethnic finger food (savory or sweet) as we contemplate how much poorer life would be without the different cultures that comprise the United States.

*Connect your personal immigration story with the national crisis to see where we have been, where we might go, and how immigration affects us all.

 

You can RSVP here.

Add your reaction Share