Civil Forfeiture and the Constitution: Are Individual Rights Really Less Important than the War on Drugs?

Teresa Day


Democracy creates an often precarious balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the whole. To shelter individuals from the passions of the day, the Founding Fathers enumerated certain rights and established constitutional protections. As the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of the United States uses these rights and protections as a tool to weigh the needs of the individual against the needs of the whole. In the last two decades, however, a war on drugs in the United States has been used to justify infringements upon traditional property rights and due process. The antiquated concept of forfeiture has become one of the primary weapons in this drug war and, as such, is often the device by which individual rights are sacrificed.


war on drugs; illegal drug activity; private property rights; individual rights; due process; civil forfeiture; criminal forfeiture

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