Financial Hardship and the Excessive Fines Clause: Assessing the Severity of Property Forfeitures After Timbs
The Yale Law Journal Forum (2020)
20 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 3, 2020
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Timbs v. Indiana—which held that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates against the states the Eighth Amendment’s ban on the imposition of “excessive fines”—it is likely that state and lower federal courts around the nation will be called upon to further develop Excessive Fines Clause doctrine. The Court’s historical exegesis in its Timbs opinion, as well as aspects of existing Eighth Amendment doctrine, support an analytical framework under which courts would look to the effects of property forfeiture on individuals and their families—in particular, the infliction of financial hardship—when assessing the severity of a forfeiture in the proportionality review context. In this Essay, we sketch the outlines of a forfeitures jurisprudence that would take into account the ways that property deprivations may restrict employment and educational access, interfere with the ability to meet basic needs (including food, shelter, and medical care), create family and social instability, and impede the ability to satisfy legal obligations.
Keywords: punishment, poverty, property, Eighth Amendment, excessive fines, forfeitures
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation