On Feb. 20, 2019, the Supreme Court collectively agreed that the 8th Amendment’s prohibition of excessive fines should be applied to the federal, local, and state government. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was present for the ruling.
Ginsburg wrote the opinion, her first, which she delivered from her seat on the bench since having surgery to remove cancerous nodules on her lung in Dec. 2018. The oral arguments for the case took place in Nov. 2018, and Ginsburg was present.
The judge wrote in the court’s opinion:
Like the Eighth Amendment’s proscriptions of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ and ‘[e]xcessive bail,’ the protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority.
Ginsburg returned to the Supreme Court on Feb. 15 after working from home for almost two months recuperating from lung cancer surgery she had in Dec. 2018. On Feb. 19, she appeared for the first time on the bench since the beginning of December.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas did not sign Ginsburg’s opinion but agreed with the court’s conclusion. The two conservative judges wrote they would have taken a different legal route.
The case brought before the Supreme Court involved an Indiana man who had his Land Rover seized after pleading guilty in the state court for conspiracy to commit theft and drug dealing. The man argued that the car was worth approximately $42,000 and taking it was excessive.
Written by Barbara Sobel
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