Court Rules Ban On Excessive Fines Applies To States

2019

In the case Timbs v. Indiana, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive fines applies to state and local governments. The case involved a car owner whose $42,000 Land Rover was seized by the state of Indiana after he was arrested for selling heroin to undercover police for $400. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote: “Forfeiture of the Land Rover … would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity” of the offense. She said excessive fines undermine other liberties since they could be used to retaliate against political enemies, They also have been used as a source of revenue. The ruling means state and local governments cannot use fines to raise revenue.