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1999 Ron Paul Chapter 67

Drug Asset Forfeiture

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24 June 1999


AMENDMENT NO. 15 IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE OFFERED BY MR. PAUL AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR AMENDMENT NO. 25 IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE OFFERED BY MR. HUTCHINSON

1999 Ron Paul 67:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment in the nature of a substiute as a substitute for amendment the in the nature of a substitute.

1999 Ron Paul 67:2
The Clerk read as follows:

1999 Ron Paul 67:3
Amendment No. 15 in the nature of a substitute offered by Mr. PAUL as a substitute for amendment No. 25 in the nature of a substitute offered by Mr. HUTCHINSON:

1999 Ron Paul 67:4
Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following:

1999 Ron Paul 67:5
SECTION 1. FORFEITURE CONDITION. No property may be forfeited under any civil asset forfeiture law unless the property’s owner has first been convicted of the criminal offense that makes the property subject to forfeiture. The term “civil forfeiture law” refers to any provision of Federal law (other than the Tariff Act of 1930 or the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) providing for the forfeiture of property other than as a sentence imposed upon conviction of a criminal offense.

(Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

1999 Ron Paul 67:6
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer a substitute amendment for the Hutchinson amendment. My understanding is that the Hyde amendment would improve current situations very much when it comes to seizure and forfeiture, and I strongly endorse the motivation of the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. HYDE) in his bill. I have a suggestion in my amendment to make this somewhat better.

1999 Ron Paul 67:7
But I rise in strong opposition to the Hutchinson amendment, because not only do I believe that the Hutchinson amendment would undo everything that the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. HYDE) is trying to do, but I sincerely believe that the Hutchinson amendment would make current law worse. I think it is very important that we make a decision here on whether or not we want to continue the effort to build an armed police force out of Washington, D.C.

1999 Ron Paul 67:8
The trends have been very negative over the last 20 or 30 years. It has to do a lot with the exuberance we show with our drug laws. I know they are all well-intended, but since 1976, when I recall the first criminal law that we passed here, they always pass nearly unanimously. Everyone is for law and order. But I think this is a perfect example of unintended consequences, the problems that we are dealing with today, because it is not the guilty that suffer. So often it is the innocent who suffer.

1999 Ron Paul 67:9
I guess if Members are for a powerful national police and they want to be casual about the civil liberties of innocent people, I imagine they could go along and ruin this bill by passing the Hutchinson amendment.

1999 Ron Paul 67:10
I think it is very important to consider another alternative. Mine addresses this, because in spite of how the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. HYDE) addresses this, which is in a very positive way, I really would like to go one step further. My bill, my substitute amendment, says this: “No property may be forfeited under any Federal civil asset forfeiture law unless the property owner has first been convicted of the criminal offense that makes the property subject to forfeiture.”

1999 Ron Paul 67:11
Is that too much to ask in America, that we do not take people’s property if they are not even convicted of a crime? That seems to be a rather modest request. That is the way it used to be. We used to never even deal with laws like this at the national level. It is only recently that we decided we had to take away the State’s right and obligation to enforce criminal law.

1999 Ron Paul 67:12
I think it is time we thought about going in another direction. That is why I am very, very pleased with this bill on the floor today in moving in this direction. I do not think we should have a nationalized police force. I think that we should be very cautious in everything that we do as we promote law.

1999 Ron Paul 67:13
This bill of the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. HYDE) could be strengthened with my amendment by saying that no forfeiture should occur, but the Hutchinson amendment makes it just the preponderance of evidence that they can take property. This is not right. This is not what America is all about. We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but property is being taken from the American people with no charge of crime.

1999 Ron Paul 67:14
They lose their property and they never get it back. They cannot afford to fight the courts, and there is a lot of frustration in this country today over this. This is why this bill is on this floor today. I am delighted it is here on this floor.

1999 Ron Paul 67:15
I ask people to vote for my amendment, which would even make this better bill, but certainly I think it would be wise not to vote for the Hutchinson amendment to make it much worse. I certainly think that on final passage, we certainly should support the Hyde bill.

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