Can the government define away your property?
The U.S. Supreme Court heard an oral argument recently that would be more at home in a Kafka novel than a real court transcript. In Nelson v. Colorado, the Court is considering whether Colorado can force an exonerated individual to prove her own innocence to retrieve the fines and fees she had to pay because of her conviction.
Bizarrely, the court and the advocates spent most of the time arguing over whether these exonerated people had any interest in the money that they shelled out because of their convictions. The solicitor general argued that the money that the state takes from criminal convicts becomes the state’s forever, even if their conviction is later overturned. He basically argued that the state could deem property to no longer be yours with a wave of the wand. At the climax of this surreal argument, Justice Breyer asked whether the state could just decide to keep a $15 million criminal fine even after the defendant was exonerated. The solicitor general said yes. Thankfully, the Court didn’t seem to bite on that point.
What to read next
In February, eight Black and Hispanic families filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Connecticut State Department of Education’s race-based enrollment quotas for Hartford’s magnet schools. This policy mandates that 25% of a … ›
Don’t know how to identify every one of the 1,500 endangered species? This group wants to throw you in prison.
Ok, that’s a slight overstatement. But not as much of one as you would think. Activist group WildEarth Guardians apparently dreams of a world in which people can be thrown … ›