The Wall Street Journal reports that robocallers go largely unpunished, with all those headline-grabbing fines virtually uncollected.
As syndicated to Fox News:
An FCC spokesman said his agency lacks the authority to enforce the forfeiture orders it issues and has passed all unpaid penalties to the Justice Department, which has the power to collect the fines. Many of the spoofers and robocallers the agency tries to punish are individuals and small operations, he added, which means they are at times unable to pay the full penalties.
“Fines serve to penalize bad conduct and deter future misconduct,” the FCC spokesman said. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which can settle or drop cases, declined to comment.
The dearth of financial penalties collected by the U.S. government for violations of telemarketing and auto-dialing rules shows the limits the sister regulators face in putting a stop to illegal robocalls. It also shows why the threat of large fines can fail to deter bad actors.
I'd bet a dollar the only fines ever collected were from a tiny handful of otherwise legitimate callers who made stupid mistakes. Robocalls and the like will account for nearly half of all calls in 2019, according to the FCC.
Correction: FCC, not FTC. Read the rest
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the court's opinion in favor of Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana. Police seized Timbs' $40,000 Land Rover when they arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin.
Reading a summary of her opinion in the courtroom, Ginsburg noted that governments employ fines "out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence" because fines are a source of revenue. The 85-year-old justice missed arguments last month following lung cancer surgery, but returned to the bench on Tuesday.
Civil forfeiture is a popular way to raise revenue, and its use has been the subject of widespread criticism across the political spectrum.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the ability of the federal government to seize property. On Wednesday, the court ruled that the clause also applies to the states.
There's an element of insanity to it all: it's so difficult to believe that police are allowed to seize and sell people's property that it was correspondingly difficult to get people to accept that it is a widespread practice, rather than some kind of swivel-eyed libertarian conspiracy theory.
Virtually every faction in American politics was firmly against it: the left, liberals, libertarians, movement conservatives, even Trumpkins. In fact, the only person I ever met who sincerely defended civil forfeiture was a self-described "moderate", a centrist. Read the rest