Facts of the Case
Defendant Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft. At the time of Timbs’ arrest, the police seized a Land Rover SUV that Timbs had purchased for $42,000 with money he received from an insurance policy when his father died. The State sought civil forfeiture of the vehicle, charging that the SUV had been used to transport heroin. Observing that Timbs had recently purchased the vehicle for more than four times the maximum $10,000 monetary fine assessable against him for his drug conviction, the trial court denied the State’s request. The vehicle’s forfeiture, the court determined, would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of Timbs’ offense, and therefore unconstitutional under the
Has the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause been incorporated against the states under the Fourteenth Amendment?
The Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the states. In an opinion authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court found that the Excessive Fines Clause finds its origins in the Magna Carta, the historic English Bill of Rights, and state constitutions from the colonial era to the present day. As such, it is “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty” and “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” As such, the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the Clause against—that is, applies to—the states with equal force as against the federal government.Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion to acknowledge that, in his opinion, the appropriate vehicle for incorporation is the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause, rather than its Due Process Clause.Justice Clarence Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment but expressly disagreeing with the majority’s use of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause to incorporate, instead finding that the Clause must be incorporated by the Privileges or Immunities Clause.
- Citation: 586 US _ (2019)
- Granted: Jun 18, 2018
- Argued: Nov 28, 2018
- Decided Feb 20, 2019