When The Looter Is The Government
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by George F. Will - May 18th, 2012 - Washington Post
Russ Caswell, 68, is bewildered: “What country are we in?” He and his wife, Pat, are ensnared in a Kafkaesque nightmare unfolding in Orwellian language.
This town’s police department is conniving with the federal government to circumvent Massachusetts law — which is less permissive than federal law — to seize his livelihood and retirement asset. In the lawsuit titled United States of America v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, the government is suing an inanimate object, the motel Caswell’s father built in 1955. The U.S. Department of Justice intends to seize it, sell it for perhaps $1.5 million and give up to 80 percent of that to the Tewksbury Police Department, whose budget is just $5.5 million. The Caswells have not been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime. They are being persecuted by two governments eager to profit from what is antiseptically called the “equitable sharing” of the fruits of civil forfeiture, a process of government enrichment that often is indistinguishable from robbery.
Our courts are complicit in this criminal practice. Federal judges see government power as their major concern, not the protection of our citizens from the abuse of government power. There is no group of scum more afflicted with this reverence for power than the evil justices on the Supreme Court of the United States.
This practice is abhorrent. Yet the justices do nothing to stop it. They don't even perceive it is abhorrent.