The Supreme Court just unanimously voted to stop the police from stealing your stuff for no reason.

In a landmark unanimous decision issued Wednesday, February 20, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled civil asset forfeiture unconstitutional because it violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against excessive fines and fees.

Civil asset forfeiture allows local law enforcement agencies to seize people’s cars, cash, homes, and pretty much anything else that is suspected of being used to commit a crime.

To get their property back, citizens have to prove it wasn’t obtained illegally, even in situations where no indictment was filed.


A few examples of ridiculous government overreach provided by Harvard Law Review:

Mary and Leon Adams resided in their West Philadelphia house for forty-six years when the police told them to vacate and initiated a civil forfeiture proceeding against the property because their adult son sold $60 worth of marijuana on the porch.

Tina Bennis faced a similar fate when the Supreme Court upheld the civil forfeiture of the car she jointly owned with her husband after he secretly had sex with a prostitute inside the vehicle.

Victor Ramos Guzman was pulled over for speeding and a state trooper seized $28,500; he was a church secretary en route to buy land for the church with the donated money and possessed no contraband.

A Washington Post report found that from 2008 to 2014, 81% of cash and property seizures came from incidents in which no indictment was filed.

via Office of Public Affairs / Flickr

To make it simple: Before the SCOTUS decision, the police could just steal your stuff for no reason whatsoever.

According to the Institute for Justice, in 2015 Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. The same year, the FBI reports that in-home burglary losses were $3.5 billion.

Law enforcement officials have a perverse incentive to shake down the people they’re sworn to protect. Civil asset forfeiture has become a huge part of funding for law enforcement agencies.

“Increasingly, our justice system has come to rely on fines, fees and forfeitures to fund law enforcement agencies rather than having to answer to elected officials for their budgets,” Scott Bullock, the president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice, told ABC News.

“We are grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court established that the U.S. Constitution secures meaningful protections for private property and limits the government’s ability to turn law enforcement into revenue generators," Bullock continued.

The case before the Supreme Court, Timbs v. Indiana, involved the police seizing a $42,000 Land Rover SUV from Tyson Timbs.

In 2015, Timbs sold heroin to an undercover cop and received one year of house arrest and five years of probation. The state also seized his car, which Timbs had purchased with money he received from his father’s life insurance policy.

Timbs challenged the seizure and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

The good news is that Timbs is sober and will either get his car back or compensation from the state for a comparable amount.

“Tyson paid his debts to society,” said Timbs’ attorney Wesley Hottot. “He took responsibility for what he did. He paid fees. He is in drug treatment. He is holding down a job. He is staying clean. Our hope and goal now is to get back his vehicle from the police so Tyson will have an easier time getting to all the different commitments he has to stay on the straight and narrow.”

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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