Volokh Conspirator Ilya Somin speaks Wednesday on federalism and the War on Drugs at Michigan Law School and Thomas Cooley Law School. Details here. If any readers are in the vicinity, Somin’s lectures might be a worthwhile destination, and one might profitably raise issues at the intersection of federalism and US asset forfeiture practices.
I might remind readers that civil asset forfeiture laws at the federal level, and especially the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing program, represent the most direct assault on federalist checks and balances, as the Equitable Sharing program is directly intended to let local and state law enforcement agencies circumvent restrictive state laws.
Why would state and local law enforcement agencies use Equitable Sharing? Because by sending their forfeitures to the Department of Justice (usually the FBI or DEA) the state or local agency can get up to an 80% kickback. This has the added advantage of letting them dodge state auditing requirements on seized property and spent funds.