Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Alabama bill to abolish civil forfeiture introduced

New Alabama Bill Would Abolish Civil Forfeiture, Require Convictions To Confiscate Property - Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice, Forbes:

January 24, 2018 - "Alabama could soon blaze a trail for civil rights. On Tuesday, Alabama Republicans Sen. Arthur Orr and Rep. Arnold Mooney filed the Forfeiture Accountability and Integrity Reform (FAIR) Act that would abolish civil forfeiture throughout the state and replace it with criminal forfeiture.... If the FAIR Act (SB 213) becomes law, Alabama would be just the fourth state to eliminate civil forfeiture, following the lead of Nebraska, New Mexico and North Carolina. In addition, the bill takes direct aim at a federal forfeiture program that was revitalized by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who previously represented the state as U.S. Senator....

"The state is in dire need of drastic reform. One study by the Institute for Justice ranked Alabama’s civil forfeiture laws as “among the worst in the nation'.... Unlike criminal cases, which require proof 'beyond a reasonable doubt,' Alabama prosecutors only have to make their case to the court’s 'reasonable satisfaction' to forfeit property in civil court....

"[A]n in-depth report released Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice ... examined over 1,110 forfeiture cases in 14 counties, or 70 percent of all civil forfeiture cases filed statewide in 2015. In 25 percent of those cases, the state never filed criminal charges against the property owner.... Half of the forfeiture cases involved cash under $1,372.... Since the cost of hiring a lawyer is typically greater than what the seized property is actually worth, owners have little choice but to walk away.

"In Alabama, prosecutors mainly file civil forfeiture complaints to carry out the drug war. Out of all forfeiture proceedings filed in 2015, more than 40 percent related to marijuana offenses.... But plenty of other offenses could trigger government confiscation too, including gambling, the distribution of 'prohibited liquors and beverages,' 'illegal nighttime deer hunting,” and, most bizarre of all, 'bear wrestling'....

"Thanks to Alabama’s rigged civil forfeiture system, police and prosecutors collected nearly $2.2 million under state forfeiture law in 2015. Perversely, the state even allows agencies to keep up to 100 percent of the proceeds from forfeiture....

"The bill sponsored by Orr and Mooney would abolish civil forfeiture altogether and replace it with criminal forfeiture. Under this proposal, the government could only confiscate property after a felony conviction or plea deal, unless the owner died, was deported or fled after being arrested and released on bail. The bill would also strengthen due process ... by raising the standard of proof to 'clear and convincing evidence' and by shifting the burden of proof onto the state, which would restore the presumption of innocence for forfeiture cases."

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/instituteforjustice/2018/01/24/new-alabama-bill-would-abolish-civil-forfeiture-require-convictions-to-confiscate-property/
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Monday, February 19, 2018

Casino owner antes $20M for online gambling ban

Ron Paul: Let the States Decide on Gambling - Newsweek:

January 21, 2018 - "The news that four Republican congressmen recently sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein demanding the federal government overturn nearly a dozen state gambling laws is just the latest attack on the Constitution and the concept of federalism....

"While the Founders did not impose an ideological litmus test on federalism, too many modern politicians do.... However, one issue of federalism which most on the left and right finally appear to agree on is gambling. States have regulated their own affairs in this industry since the inception of the Constitution. Some states have gaming available in gas stations and convenience stores while others don’t even allow state-run lotteries....

"After the Justice Department reversed its federal ban on the state legalization of online gambling in 2011, New Jersey quickly legalized it, while several others – Delaware, Nevada, and Pennsylvania – followed suit. Some states like Georgia also allow the online sale of lottery tickets.... Technology prevents residents from restrictive states like Utah from gambling on the sites of more permissive states like New Jersey....

"The attack on the states’ ability to establish their own gambling laws comes mainly from one Las Vegas casino owner. Sheldon Adelson, a generous contributor to GOP political campaigns, had Darryl Nirenberg, his personal lobbyist, draft legislation that would establish a federal ban on online gaming.... As Tho Bishop at the Mises Institute pointed out, Adelson donated $20 million to the Republican Senate Leadership Fund to pressure GOP members into introducing his protectionist legislation.

"When the bill failed to move, an effort was undertaken to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to impose this anti-gambling view on the states. The Adelson crowd went so far as to hire a lobbyist that was a longtime friend of Sessions this summer. After Mr. Sessions was forced to recuse himself, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has become the new target for this pressure campaign.

"Recently, four Republican congressmen, including my friend Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), dispatched a letter to Mr. Rosenstein urged the Department to pull the plug on the states’ ability to set their own gambling rules....

"The danger of opening this Pandora’s box is obvious. Today, social conservatives may seek to ban state-regulated online gambling. But tomorrow, opponents of online ammo sales may use this precedent to advance their political agenda. Just how big would this domino effect of resisting the Tenth Amendment get?

"Gambling [laws], like other controversial issues, are best decided in state capitals, not by federal dictates. The Founding Fathers recognized this fact. It is time for modern-day politicians to realize it as well."

Read more: http://www.newsweek.com/ron-paul-let-states-decide-gambling-786269
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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bastiat on The Law and its limits

Bastiat Knew the Proper Limits of Government Force - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world - Frank Hollenbeck:

February 18, 2018 - "High school students in the United States are usually required to take a course in government. They learn about the structure of government but rarely discover the appropriate role of government.... If they did, one of their required readings would be Frédéric Bastiat’s treatise The Law, a seminal mid-nineteenth-century work....

"Bastiat states that individuals are born with the natural rights of life, liberty, and property. From this notion, the only proper function of the use of force or the law is the collective organization of the natural right to self-defense of these rights....

"He then defines any illegitimate use of force or of the law as legal plunder. This is an all-encompassing term which includes any unjustified violation of the life, liberty, or property of others. Many examples abound today with regulations on labor (e.g. minimum wage laws), products (e.g. subsidies and tariffs), health care, education, or even the use of marijuana or any other drugs....

"The problem with legal plunder is that it creates hatred and discord and eats at the very fabric of society. The US Civil War was fought primarily for two reasons: slavery and tariffs. The first was a violation of liberty, the second was a violation of property....

"The law should be a viewed as a negation; if you don’t violate the life, liberty, or property of someone else, you should not see the arm of the law or care much about the role of government.... If the law were properly defined, you would not blame the government for your misfortunes nor would you credit it with your successes.... Bastiat wrote:
[I]f you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, literary, or artistic — you will then be lost in an uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it upon you. This is true because fraternity and philanthropy, unlike justice, do not have precise limits. Once started, where will you stop? And where will the law stop itself?
"More important than left or right is the concept of liberty. The solution to the problem of human relationships is freedom, and it thrives most when the role of government is limited, the use of force is constrained, and the law is confined to the administration of universal justice, or, more precisely, the law is exclusively used as a roadblock to injustice."

Read more: https://fee.org/articles/bastiat-knew-the-proper-limits-of-government-force/
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Canadian Senate delays cannabis legalization

Unelected hacks in the Canadian Senate delay cannabis legalization | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly - Charlie Smith:

February 16, 2018 - "Once again, aging legislators who've never been chosen by the people and who do not reflect the demographic reality of the country have thwarted the will of Parliament.

"I'm talking about the Canadian Senate.... Its members collect $147,700 per year while being allowed to moonlight.... Unlike members of Parliament, these fat cats can't be kicked out of office by the public at election time ... even if they're charged with criminal offences, because they get to keep their well-paying jobs until they're 75 years of age.

"As a result, they'll face no political consequences for delaying the legalization of cannabis as they continue their review of Bill C-45 until as late as June 7. Their decision to continue picking apart the weed-regulation bill ensures that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not fulfill his promise to legalize cannabis no later than July.... If the Senate recommends amendments, that could result in a longer delay....

"The Trudeau government was elected in October 2015. This means it will be nearly three-quarters into its mandate before finally getting around to fulfilling its pre-election promise to legalize weed ... unelected senators are still dithering over a marijuana-legalization bill 27 months after Trudeau became prime minister.

"Back in 2002, a Canadian Senate special committee on illegal drugs issued a report on cannabis legalization after exhaustively studying this subject.... It proposed a licensing scheme to produce cannabis with a THC content of 13 percent or less [and] endorsed amnesty for those who've been convicted of possession of cannabis....Its recommendations, including amnesty, were ignored by successive federal governments.

"In 2016, the first full year after Trudeau became prime minister, 17,733 people in Canada were charged with possession of cannabis. That's 17,733 people whose lives have been profoundly affected because elected and unelected officials couldn't countenance people smoking a joint when even the prime minister has admitted to doing this in the past.

"Even today, the Justice Department, headed by Vancouver Granville Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, refuses to direct Crown counsel to stop charging Canadians for possession of cannabis."

Read more: https://www.straight.com/cannabis/1033756/unelected-hacks-canadian-senate-delay-marijuana-legalization
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Friday, February 16, 2018

Liu forfeiture unconstitutional, BC suit argues

New constitutional challenge argues B.C. civil forfeiture regime violates Charter - The Globe and Mail - Sunny Dhillan:

February 11, 2018 - "British Columbia's civil forfeiture regime violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by forcing individuals to produce evidence against themselves and by resulting in penalties that are grossly disproportionate, says a new constitutional challenge.

'The case, which will proceed to trial in B.C. Supreme Court in November, stems from a 2015 police search of a multimillion-dollar home on Vancouver's west side that turned up hundreds of marijuana plants....

'The Globe and Mail has reported extensively on the Civil Forfeiture Office, which was established as a way to fight organized crime but has come to have a far broader reach. The office does not need a criminal conviction or even charges to pursue a file. The Globe has interviewed those who have had to fight to keep their homes, vehicles, money and even a coin collection. Others have been unable to afford to argue their case.

"B.C.'s NDP government, which had called for a review of the province's Civil Forfeiture Act when it was in opposition, has since said it does not plan to order one. The province's Public Safety Minister, Mike Farnworth, has said the office is operating as it should....

"Kwok Wai (Andy) Liu, ... granted the Vancouver Police Department access to the property in September, 2015, at which point officers discovered approximately 700 to 750 marijuana plants.... 10 kilograms of dried marijuana, 'packaged in a manner consistent with drug trafficking rather than personal consumption,' were also found, as were three Health Canada licences allowing for personal production of cannabis. Each licence authorized the growth of 146 plants.

"The property was sold in October, 2016, for approximately $3.1-million. The money is being held by the court until the case is resolved. The office has said Mr. Liu would not have been able to afford the home unless he trafficked marijuana. It has said money from the sale should be forfeited to the province....

"Liu said the Civil Forfeiture Act violates the Charter.... Vancouver police did not forward his file to the Crown to consider criminal charges but did send it to the Civil Forfeiture Office, which faces a lower standard of proof – on a balance of probabilities instead of beyond a reasonable doubt. He said individuals who face civil forfeiture cases do not have adequate protections, including but not limited to the presumption of innocence and the right to not be compelled by the state to testify against oneself....

"Liu is seeking several declarations, including one that would see the right to silence apply to civil forfeiture proceedings and one that would state the application of the Civil Forfeiture Act can lead to results that are grossly disproportionate to the alleged unlawful activity."

Read more: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-constitutional-challenge-argues-bc-civil-forfeiture-regime-violates-charter/article37935108/
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Maclean claims a libertarian-to-alt.right "slide" (video)

Professor at prestigious university declares libertarian leaders ‘seem to be on the autism spectrum’ | TheBlaze:

"A Duke University professor said the 'architects' of libertarianism 'seem to be on the autism spectrum' because they 'don’t feel solidarity or empathy with others'.... Nancy MacLean — a history professor and author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America — made her comments during a Thursday lecture.... Here’s the video of her lecture and the subsequent Q&A session. MacLean’s 'autism spectrum' remark comes just after the 1-hour mark:....

"Prior to her 'autism spectrum' remark, MacLean tore into libertarianism, saying 'social Darwinism … drives the whole thing' and 'there’s always a slide from libertariansim into the alt-right.' She added that libertarians believe capitalism is 'absolutely wonderful, without flaws....Then they have to explain why some people have poverty over generations … are not able to lift themselves up out of their circumstances in the way the libertarians prescribe, and so they slide off into the kind of racist thought that we associate with the ‘alt-right,' MacLean added.

"She added that while libertarians are 'well organized,' they 'wouldn’t be much' without their money — and that 'when they’re exposed,' it will be like 'the emperor has no clothes.'"

Read more: https://www.theblaze.com/news/2018/02/13/professor-at-prestigious-university-declares-libertarian-leaders-seem-to-be-on-the-autism-spectrum
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Nancy MacLean smears libertarians & the autistic

Democracy in Chains Author Nancy MacLean Calls Autism a Leading Cause of Libertarianism - Hit & Run : Reason.com - Robby Soave:

February 13, 2018 - "Nancy MacLean, the Duke University historian who wrote Democracy in Chains, the deeply conspiratorial and much-criticized biography of public choice economist James Buchanan, told an audience in New York last week that Buchanan and other early leaders of the limited-government movement 'seem to be on the autism spectrum.'

"According to MacLean, there is a connection between autism and libertarianism, and that connection is not feeling 'solidarity or empathy, and having 'kind of difficult human relationships sometimes'...."

"This decidedly unempathetic assertion was MacLean's answer to a question from the audience at NYC's Unitarian Church of All Souls: 'Where do [Buchanan's] motivations lie? Are they ones of personal greed? It seems like it's a little grander, is it malevolence?'.... MacLean thanked the audience member for his 'profound question.' Then she confides in a low tone, 'I didn't put this in the book but I'll say it here' and goes on to explain:
It's striking to me how many of the architects of this cause seem to be on the autism spectrum. People who don't feel solidarity or empathy with others, and who have kind of difficult human relationships sometimes....

Buchanan's own parents wanted him to go into politics and have a political career....  Part of me, since you've asked me in the way you have, part of me feels like there was this some kind of wound in him that he couldn't be this political figure, and then he made it his mission to kind of debunk the whole of politics to show that no one who was in it was good. But I don't know....
"MacLean is making two not-necessarily-related claims here: 1) that Buchanan's autism made him unsuitable for politics, spurning his opposition to government, and 2) autistic people are less empathetic, which is why callous, unfeeling libertarianism appeals to them.....

"'I've discussed how ableist people like MacLean use autism as a slur, but I don't think we've ever been accused of being the source of malevolent ideologies before,' wrote Troy Earl Camplin, who blogs about living with Asperger's syndrome and having an autistic son. 'If I lived anywhere near Duke University, I would be outside the History Department tomorrow protesting her'...

"In case there was any doubt about what she meant, another audience member asked whether Buchanan's ideas were spreading 'to other universities and so that we've got this constant flow of libertarians, autistic libertarians.' MacLean smiles and chuckles."

Read more: https://reason.com/blog/2018/02/13/democracy-in-chains-author-nancy-maclean
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