Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jul 1998
Date: 07/27/1998
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Author: Linc Madison

I am astonished that it is necessary for the American Civil Liberties
Union to file a lawsuit against the blatantly unconstitutional Oakland
ordinance that provides for civil forfeiture of vehicles involved in
the alleged commission of alleged crimes - if the alleged crimes
involve drugs or prostitution ( "Oakland sued over car seizures," July

The language of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is clear
and unmistakable: "No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty,
or property, without due process of law." There is nothing in that
wording that provides an exception for civil forfeiture distinct from
criminal law.

The very purpose of the Bill of Rights is to make it more difficult
for the government to use this sort of heavy-handed tactic with no
legal checks and balances.

That a deputy district attorney can argue that due process is not
required in all cases is truly frightening. Andy Cuellar has said that
the government can seize any property of yours it pleases, based
merely on the suspicion that you may have committed a crime.

All civil forfeiture laws that allow for the seizure of property from
a person who has not been convicted of a crime are unconstitutional on
their face. I know the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled otherwise, but the
court's Orwellian doublespeak logic is simply wrong.

Linc Madison
San Francisco