Supreme Court limits use of civil forfeiture by states

The Supreme Court unanimously decided to limit how states such as South Carolina use civil forfeiture.

The ruling should have an immediate effect on law enforcement’s use of civil forfeiture in South Carolina, said Deborah Barbier, an attorney in Columbia who specializes in civil forfeiture cases.

“Forfeiture is an incredibly powerful law enforcement tool. It must be used reasonably,” she said. “This case demonstrates that when law enforcement tries to overreach – the courts have the power to stop those abuses.”

She called it a victory for the civil liberties of all Americans to be free from grossly disproportionate seizures of their personal property by law enforcement.

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