“If your car is stolen in Massachusetts, the perp might be the government,” tweeted Amy Alkon.

Apparently, the commonwealth has passed an onerous and obtrusive bill that allows Massachusetts to seize and resell vehicles – cars, boats, planes – that have ever transported one untaxed vaping device.  

Oh, and they get to keep the profits.

Jacob Sullum, at Reason, has the details:

The Massachusetts House of Representatives last week “approved a bill that would ban flavored e-cigarettes, impose a 75 percent excise tax on ‘electronic nicotine delivery systems’ (including e-liquids as well as devices), and authorize forfeiture of cars driven by vapers caught with ‘untaxed’ products.” The law specifies that the state can seize, resell, and keep the proceeds from a motor vehicle, boat or airplane found to have contained or transported a single untaxed vaping device. “This is completely insane and endangers the property rights of anyone in Massachusetts,” said Dan Alban of the Institute for Justice, an attorney who has worked on cases of forfeiture abuse. 

This government overreach is the opposite of self-governance. Civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize cash, cars, and even houses from people suspected of being connected to criminal activity… even if the owner is not charged with a crime. These laws give police and district attorneys, of course, a huge profit incentive since forfeiture revenue benefits their bottom lines.

Clarence Thomas aptly described the unfairness of this practice in his 2017 opinion in Leonard v. Texas. He wrote:

This system — where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use — has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses…

These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings. Perversely, these same groups are often the most burdened by forfeiture. They are more likely to use cash than alternative forms of payment, like credit cards, which may be less susceptible to forfeiture. And they are more likely to suffer in their daily lives while they litigate for the return of a critical item of property, such as a car or a home.

Exactly.  

Wake up, Massachusetts.  The Institute for Justice had already described your state as having “the worst civil forfeiture laws in the country,” and that was before this incredibly horrible bill. 

Giving the government this sort of power – the power to steal from unsuspecting citizens – is government tyranny, pure and simple.

Hat Tip: Overlawyered

Image Credit: U.S. Army photo by Molly Cooke

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.