Rand: Civil Asset Forfeiture Not ‘American Way’

Rand Paul
AP Photo/John Locher

On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said it was un-American for the government to seize the property of Americans without charging or convicting them of crimes.

In an appearance on Fox News, Paul said libertarians, working-class Americans, and minorities are unhappy with government in general because of things like civil asset forfeiture.

Under current law, Paul said “the government can take your property and then you have to prove that you’re innocent” and Americans “are guilty until you prove yourself innocent. He said that is not the “American way.”

He noted that if poor person without a bank account has a thousand dollars seized, it may cost more than that to hire an attorney to get the money back from the government.

Though Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced some minimal reforms, Paul’s FAIR Act, which he reintroduced on Monday, would force the government to “charge and convict you of the crime before they get to keep your stuff.”

“If they don’t charge you and convict you, they should have to give you your stuff back,” Paul said, saying Americans of all backgrounds, especially poor people, are upset that “they are having their stuff taken without due process.”

On Monday, Paul said his FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act would “protect the rights of property owners and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in property proceedings.”

Paul vowed to “continue to do all I can to protect the rights of Americans and ensure that their Fifth Amendment rights are no longer infringed upon.”

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” he said. “The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime.”