On November 28, 2018, the Supreme Court heard argument in Timbs v. Indiana, a case involving the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the concept of “incorporation” against the states.
In May 2013, Tyson Timbs was apprehended en route to a controlled drug purchase, having previously purchased about $400 worth of heroin from undercover police officers. He ultimately pled guilty to felony counts of drug dealing and conspiracy to commit theft, and was sentenced to six years of imprisonment (with five suspended to probation). Timbs also had to pay roughly $1,200 in police costs and related fees. The State of Indiana then sought forfeiture of Timbs’ Land Rover, which he had used $42,000 of his late father’s life insurance proceeds to purchase, but had driven to buy and transport heroin. Lower courts ordered the vehicle released to Timbs, concluding that forfeiture of the Land Rover would impose an excessive fine in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment. The Supreme Court of Indiana, however, reinstated the forfeiture on the grounds that the U.S. Supreme Court had never incorporated the excessive fine clause against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court thereafter granted certiorari to address that issue: whether the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause is incorporated against the states under the Fourteenth Amendment.
To the discuss the case, we have Christopher Green, Associate Professor of Law and H.L.A. Hart Scholar in Law and Philosophy at University of Mississippi School of Law.