Legislation introduced by Sen. Rand Paul would limit how much personal property authorities can seize from citizens, a move that will boost the possible presidential candidate’s popularity with young and minority voters as he looks toward a possible 2016 presidential bid.
Touting the Fifth Amendment, Paul introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act Tuesday to limit asset forfeiture, a practice where police seize personal property from people who have not been convicted of a crime. Sens. Angus King and Mike Lee are also sponsoring the bill.
“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” Paul said in a statement. “The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime.”
Under the FAIR Act, the feds must prove that the owner intentionally used the property as part of illegal activity, The Hill reports.
The Obama administration recently limited “equitable sharing” in asset forfeiture, a practice that encouraged local asset seizures by police, but Rand’s legislation goes further.
Paul pointed to asset seizures as inflaming racial tension in the U.S., something that has become a top issue since police incidents in Ferguson and New York.
Police have often been accused of wrongfully taking property for financial gain. One recent example that outraged the public featured a family in the Philadelphia suburbs that had their home seized because their son sold drugs out of the house.
In another example, a Nevada cop seized $50,000 from a man who committed no crime, not even a traffic violation.
Rep. Tim Walberg is the lead sponsor of the legislation in the House.
“At a time when trust between government and its citizens is quickly eroding, the FAIR Act intends to return the balance of power back to the American people and away from an overreaching federal government,” Walberg said in a statement.
The possible presidential candidate’s move will likely be popular with younger voters and minorities as it taps into current frustration with law enforcement over alleged racially motivated killings. That support will be crucial if he decides to run for president.
“I will continue to do all I can to protect the rights of Americans and ensure that their Fifth Amendment rights are no longer infringed upon,” Paul said.