Washington, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Representatives Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Tim Walberg (R-MI) reintroduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act), a comprehensive reform to our nation's civil asset forfeiture laws. The FAIR Act raises the level of proof necessary for the federal government to seize property, reforms the IRS structuring statute to protect innocent small business owners, and increases transparency and congressional oversight.
"The lawless seizure and ‘forfeiture’ of people’s private property by police officers is becoming standard operating procedure in many parts of the country," said Rep. Raskin. "We want to restore the presumption of innocence, fair judicial process, and the opportunity to be heard. I’m proud to introduce this important bipartisan legislation with my friend Rep. Walberg to rein in civil asset forfeiture and restore due process rights.”
“It’s been far too easy for the government to seize a private citizen’s property, in some cases even without criminal charges being brought,” said Rep. Walberg. “The FAIR Act brings important reforms to limit government overreach and restores constitutional rights. Across the political spectrum, the FAIR Act has garnered support and I look forward to my continued work with Congressman Raskin as we fight to get this critical legislation signed into law.”
Joining Walberg and Raskin as original co-sponsors of the FAIR Act are Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Joe Neguse (D-CO).
“Civil asset forfeiture is an important tool, but it needs reform,” said Rep. Armstrong. “Innocent until proven guilty has little meaning if law enforcement can seize your assets before you ever appear in a court on a criminal charge. This bipartisan bill takes important steps such as ending equitable sharing and providing additional due process to protect private property from unjust seizure.”
“Seizing property and handing it over to the government without proof of wrongdoing is fundamentally un-American,” said Rep. Cárdenas. “In the United States, we are innocent until proven guilty, and the government may not seize our property without just cause. It’s past time to reform our civil asset forfeiture system and make it fairer for the American people.”
“The current process of civil asset forfeiture is in direct contradiction to the basic premise of American justice: an individual is innocent until proven guilty," said Rep. McClintock. "As such, civil asset forfeiture violates the rights guaranteed to Americans under the Constitution. I am pleased to cosponsor the FAIR Act, which returns the presumption of innocence to American citizens.”
The text of the FAIR Act is available here.