Congress must put an end to the Justice Department's flagrant disregard for the Fourth Amendment.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions signed an order this week making it easier for law enforcement officials to seize property from persons who have not even been charged with a crime.
"President Trump has directed this Department of Justice to reduce crime in this country, and we will use every lawful tool that we have to do that. We will continue to encourage civil asset forfeiture whenever appropriate in order to hit organized crime in the wallet," Sessions said Wednesday.
He added, "With this new policy, the American people can be confident knowing that we are taking action to defund criminals and at the same time protecting the rights of law-abiding people."
CBS News' Paula Reid explains how the newly announced DOJ policy, which marks a reverse of Obama-era restrictions, could help law enforcement officials get around state-level legislation meant to curb civil asset forfeiture:
… 24 states have passed laws limiting the practice, but local law enforcement can get around those restrictions by giving seized assets to the federal government instead of returning them to their owners. This practice is called "adoption" and it's been used to seize almost $1 billion in assets over the last decade.
It's bad enough that this entire practice is a clear violation of our Fourth Amendment right to be secure in our "persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." But reversing previous civil asset forfeiture restrictions so that law enforcement agencies can skirt state laws goes far beyond bad.
If you're a conservative and you believe in personal property rights and the virtue of limited government, there's no defending a policy wherein law enforcement officials can work around local and state ordinances to seize an individual's property based entirely on suspicion.
That's some primo, grade-A garbage alright.
Congress has the power to rein in this Justice Department. Call your representative.