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Date: 02-21-2019

Case Style:

Tyson Timbs v. Indiana

Case Number: 17-1091

Judge: Ginsburg

Court: United States Supreme Court on Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Indiana

Plaintiff's Attorney: Justin Frederick Roebel

Defendant's Attorney: David Winston Stone

Description:





Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft. The trial court sentenced him to one year ofhome detention and five years of probation, which included a court-supervised addiction-treatment program. The sentence also required Timbs to pay fees and costs totaling $1,203. At the time of Timbs’s arrest, the police seized his vehicle, a Land Rover SUV Timbs had purchased for about $42,000. Timbs paid for the vehicle with money he received from an insurance policy when his father died.

The State engaged a private law firm to bring a civil suit for forfeiture of Timbs’s Land Rover, charging that the vehicle had been used to transport heroin. After Timbs’s guilty plea in the criminal case, the trial court held ahearing on the forfeiture demand. Although finding that Timbs’s vehicle had been used to facilitate violation of a criminal statute, the court denied the requested forfeiture, observing that Timbs had recently purchased the vehicle for $42,000, more than four times the maximum $10,000 monetary fine assessable against him for his drug conviction. Forfeiture of the Land Rover, the court determined,

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would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of Timbs’s offense, hence unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause. The Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed that determination, but the Indiana Supreme Court reversed. 84 N. E. 3d 1179 (2017). The Indiana Supreme Court did not decide whether the forfeiture would be excessive. Instead, it held that the Excessive Fines Clause constrains only federal action and isinapplicable to state impositions. We granted certiorari.585 U. S. __ (2018).

The question presented: Is the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause an “incorporated” protection applicable to the States under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause? 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. This safeguard, we hold, is“fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty,” with “dee[p] root[s] in [our] history and tradition.” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 767 (2010) (internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis deleted). The Excessive Fines Clause is therefore incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

I A

When ratified in 1791, the Bill of Rights applied only to the Federal Government. Barron ex rel. Tiernan v. Mayor of Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243 (1833). “The constitutional Amendments adopted in the aftermath of the Civil War,”however, “fundamentally altered our country’s federal system.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 754. With only “a handful” of exceptions, this Court has held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the protections contained in the
Bill of Rights, rendering them appli

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cable to the States. Id., at 764–765, and nn. 12–13. A Bill of Rights protection is incorporated, we have explained, if it is “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty,”or “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” Id., at 767 (internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis deleted).

Incorporated Bill of Rights guarantees are “enforced against the States under the Fourteenth Amendment according to the same standards that protect those personal rights against federal encroachment.” Id., at 765 (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, if a Bill of Rights protection is incorporated, there is no daylight between the federal and state conduct it prohibits or requires.1

B Under the Eighth Amendment, “[e]xcessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Taken together, these Clauses place “parallel limitations” on “the power of those entrusted with the criminal-law function of government.” Browning-Ferris Industries of Vt., Inc. v. Kelco Disposal, Inc., 492 U. S. 257, 263 (1989) (quoting Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U. S. 651, 664 (1977)). Directly at issue here is the phrase “nor excessive fines imposed,” which “limits the government’s power to extract payments, whether in cash or in kind, ‘as punishment for some offense.’” United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U. S. 321, 327–328 (1998) (quot——————

1The sole exception is our holding that the Sixth Amendment requires jury unanimity in federal, but not state, criminal proceedings. Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U. S. 404 (1972). As we have explained, that “exception to th[e] general rule . . . was the result of an unusual division among the Justices,” and it “does not undermine the well-established rule that incorporated Bill of Rights protections apply identically to the States and the Federal Government.” McDonald, 561
U. S., at 766, n. 14.

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ing Austin v. United States, 509 U. S. 602, 609–610 (1993)). The Fourteenth Amendment, we hold, incorporates this protection.

The Excessive Fines Clause traces its venerable lineage back to at least 1215, when Magna Carta guaranteed that “[a] Free-man shall not be amerced for a small fault, but after the manner of the fault; and for a great fault after the greatness thereof, saving to him his contenement . . . .” §20, 9 Hen. III, ch. 14, in 1 Eng. Stat. at Large 5 (1225).2 As relevant here, Magna Carta required that economic sanctions “be proportioned to the wrong” and “not be so large as to deprive [an offender] of his livelihood.” Browning-Ferris, 492 U. S., at 271. See also 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 372 (1769) (“[N]oman shall have a larger amercement imposed upon him, than his circumstances or personal estate will bear . . . .”).But cf. Bajakajian, 524 U. S., at 340, n. 15 (taking noposition on the question whether a person’s income and wealth are relevant considerations in judging the excessiveness of a fine).

Despite Magna Carta, imposition of excessive fines persisted. The 17th century Stuart kings, in particular, were criticized for using large fines to raise revenue, harass their political foes, and indefinitely detain those unable to pay. E.g., The Grand Remonstrance ¶¶17, 34 (1641), in The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution 1625–1660, pp. 210, 212 (S. Gardiner ed., 3d ed. rev. 1906); Browning-Ferris, 492 U. S., at 267. When James II was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution, the

2“Amercements were payments to the Crown, and were required of individuals who were ‘in the King’s mercy,’ because of some act offensive to the Crown.” Browning-Ferris, 492 U. S., at 269. “[T]hough fines and amercements had distinct historical antecedents, they served fundamentally similar purposes—and, by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the terms were often used interchangeably.” Brief for Eighth Amendment Scholars as Amici Curiae 12.

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attendant English Bill of Rights reaffirmed Magna Carta’sguarantee by providing that “excessive Bail ought not to be required, nor excessive Fines imposed; nor cruel and unusual Punishments inflicted.” 1 Wm. & Mary, ch. 2, §10, in 3 Eng. Stat. at Large 441 (1689).

Across the Atlantic, this familiar language was adopted almost verbatim, first in the Virginia Declaration ofRights, then in the Eighth Amendment, which states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Adoption of the Excessive Fines Clause was in tune not only with English law; the Clause resonated as well withsimilar colonial-era provisions. See, e.g., Pa. Frame of Govt., Laws Agreed Upon in England, Art. XVIII (1682), in5 Federal and State Constitutions 3061 (F. Thorpe ed.1909) (“[A]ll fines shall be moderate, and saving men’scontenements, merchandize, or wainage.”). In 1787, the constitutions of eight States—accounting for 70% of the
U. S. population—forbade excessive fines. Calabresi, Agudo, & Dore, State Bills of Rights in 1787 and 1791, 85 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1451, 1517 (2012).

An even broader consensus obtained in 1868 upon ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. By then, the constitutions of 35 of the 37 States—accounting for over 90% of the U. S. population—expressly prohibited excessive fines.Calabresi & Agudo, Individual Rights Under State Constitutions When the Fourteenth Amendment Was Ratified in 1868, 87 Texas L. Rev. 7, 82 (2008).

Notwithstanding the States’ apparent agreement that the right guaranteed by the Excessive Fines Clause wasfundamental, abuses continued. Following the Civil War,Southern States enacted Black Codes to subjugate newly freed slaves and maintain the prewar racial hierarchy. Among these laws’ provisions were draconian fines for violating broad proscriptions on “vagrancy” and other dubious offenses. See, e.g., Mississippi Vagrant Law,

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Laws of Miss. §2 (1865), in 1 W. Fleming, Documentary History of Reconstruction 283–285 (1950). When newly freed slaves were unable to pay imposed fines, States of ten demanded involuntary labor instead. E.g., id. §5; see Finkelman, John Bingham and the Background to the Fourteenth Amendment, 36 Akron L. Rev 671, 681–685 (2003) (describing Black Codes’ use of fines and other methods to “replicate, as much as possible, a system of involuntary servitude”). Congressional debates over the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the joint resolution that became the Fourteenth Amendment, and similar measures repeatedly mentioned the use of fines to coerce involuntary labor. See, e.g., Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 443 (1866); id., at 1123–1124.

Today, acknowledgment of the right’s fundamental nature remains widespread. As Indiana itself reports, all50 States have a constitutional provision prohibiting the im position of excessive fines either directly or by requiring proportionality. Brief in Opposition 8–9. Indeed, Indiana explains that its own Supreme Court has held that the Indiana Constitution should be interpreted to impose the same restrictions as the Eighth Amendment. Id., at 9 (citing Norris v. State, 271 Ind. 568, 576, 394 N. E. 2d 144, 150 (1979)).

For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties. Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies, as the Stuarts’ critics learned several centuries ago. See Browning-Ferris, 492 U. S., at 267. Even absent a political motive, fines may be employed “in a measure out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence,” for “fines are a source of revenue,” while other forms of punishment “cost a State money.” Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U. S. 957, 979, n. 9 (1991) (opinion of Scalia, J.) (“it

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makes sense to scrutinize governmental action more closely when the State stands to benefit”). This concern is scarcely hypothetical. See Brief for American Civil Liberties Union et al. as Amici Curiae 7 (“Perhaps because they a repolitically easier to impose than generally applicable taxes, state and local governments nationwide increasingly
ehistorical and logical case for concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming. Protection against excessive punitive economic sanctions secured by the Clause is, to repeat, both “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty” and “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 767 (internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis deleted).

II The State of Indiana does not meaningfully challenge the case for incorporating the Excessive Fines Clause as a
general matter. Instead, the State argues that the Clause does not apply to its use of civil in rem forfeitures because, the State says, the Clause’s specific application to such forfeitures is neither fundamental nor deeply rooted.In Austin v. United States, 509 U. S. 602 (1993), however, this Court held that civil in rem forfeitures fall within the Clause’s protection when they are at least partially punitive. Austin arose in the federal context. But when a Bill of Rights protection is incorporated, the protection applies “identically to both the Federal Government and the States.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 766, n. 14. Accordingly, to prevail, Indiana must persuade us either to over rule our decision in Austin or to hold that, in light of Austin, the Excessive Fines Clause is not incorporated because the Clause’s application to civil in rem forfeitures is neither fundamental nor deeply rooted. The first argument is not

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properly before us, and the second misapprehends the nature of our incorporation inquiry.

A In the Indiana Supreme Court, the State argued that forfeiture of Timbs’s SUV would not be excessive. See Brief in Opposition 5. It never argued, however, that civil in rem forfeitures were categorically beyond the reach of the Excessive Fines Clause. The Indiana Supreme Court, for its part, held that the Clause did not apply to the States at all, and it nowhere addressed the Clause’s application to civil in rem forfeitures. See 84 N. E. 3d 1179. Accordingly, Timbs sought our review of the question “[w]hether the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated against the States under the Fourteenth Amendment.” Pet. for Cert. i. In opposing review, Indiana attempted to reformulate the question to ask “[w]hether the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause restricts States’ use of civil asset forfeitures.” Brief in Opposition i. And on the merits, Indiana has argued not only that the Clause is not incorporated, but also that Austin was wrongly decided. Respondents’ “right, in their brief in opposition, to restate the questions presented,” however, “does not give them the power to expand [those]questions.” Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, 506 U. S. 263, 279, n. 10 (1993) (emphasis deleted). That is particularly the case where, as here, a respondent’s reformulation would lead us to address a question neither pressed nor passed upon below. Cf. Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U. S. 709, 718, n. 7 (2005) (“[W]e are a court of review, not of first view . . . .”). We thus decline the State’s invitation to reconsider our unanimous judgment in Austin that civil in rem forfeitures are fines for purposes of the Eighth Amendment when they are at least partially punitive.

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B As a fallback, Indiana argues that the Excessive Fines Clause cannot be incorporated if it applies to civil in rem forfeitures. We disagree. In considering whether the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates a protection contained in the Bill of Rights, we ask whether the right guaranteed—not each and every particular application of that right—is fundamental or deeply rooted. Indiana’s suggestion to the contrary is inconsistent with the approach we have taken in cases concerning novel applications of rights already deemed incorporated. For example, in Packingham v. North Carolina, 582 U. S. ___ (2017), we held that a North Carolina statute prohibiting registered sex offenders from accessing certain commonplace social media websites violated the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. In reaching this conclusion, we noted that the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause was “applicable to the States under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 1). We did not, however, inquire whether the Free Speech Clause’s application specifically to social media websites was fundamental or deeply rooted. See also, e.g., Riley v. California, 573 U. S. 373 (2014) (holding, without separately considering incorporation, that States’ warrant less search of digital information stored on cell phones ordinarily violates the Fourth Amendment). Similarly here,regardless of whether application of the Excessive Fines Clause to civil in rem forfeitures is itself fundamental or deeply rooted, our conclusion that the Clause is incorporated remains unchanged.

* * * For the reasons stated, the judgment of the Indiana Supreme Court is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
_________________
_________________
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GORSUCH, J., concurring
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
No. 17–1091
TYSON TIMBS, PETITIONER v. INDIANA
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
[February 20, 2019]
JUSTICE GORSUCH, concurring.
The majority faithfully applies our precedent and, based on a wealth of historical evidence, concludes that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause against the States. I agree with that conclusion. As an original matter, I acknowledge, the appropriate vehicle for incorporation may well be the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges orImmunities Clause, rather than, as this Court has longassumed, the Due Process Clause. See, e.g., post, at 1–3 (THOMAS, J., concurring in judgment); McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 805–858 (2010) (THOMAS, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment) (documenting evidence that the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” include, at minimum, the individual rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights); Wildenthal, Nationalizing the Bill of Rights: Revisiting the Original Understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866–67, 68 Ohio St.
L. J. 1509 (2007); A. Amar, The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction 163–214 (1998); M. Curtis, No StateShall Abridge: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill ofRights (1986). But nothing in this case turns on that question, and, regardless of the precise vehicle, there can be no serious doubt that the Fourteenth Amendment requires the States to respect the freedom from excessive fines enshrined in the Eighth Amendment.
_________________
_________________
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THOMAS, J., concurring in judgment
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
No. 17–1091
TYSON TIMBS, PETITIONER v. INDIANA
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
[February 20, 2019]
JUSTICE THOMAS, concurring in the judgment.
I agree with the Court that the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessivefines fully applicable to the States. But I cannot agree with the route the Court takes to reach this conclusion. Instead of reading the Fourteenth Amendment’s DueProcess Clause to encompass a substantive right that hasnothing to do with “process,” I would hold that the right tobe free from excessive fines is one of the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
I The Fourteenth Amendment provides that “[n]o Stateshall make or enforce any law which shall abridge theprivileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” “On its face, this appears to grant . . . United States citizens a certain collection of rights—i.e., privileges or immunities—attributable to that status.” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 808 (2010) (THOMAS, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment). But as I have previously explained, this Court “marginaliz[ed]” the Privilegesor Immunities Clause in the late 19th century by definingthe collection of rights covered by the Clause “quite narrowly.” Id., at 808–809. Litigants seeking federal protection of substantive rights against the States thus needed
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“an alternative fount of such rights,” and this Court “found one in a most curious place,” id., at 809—the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which prohibits “any State” from “depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Because this Clause speaks only to “process,” the Courthas “long struggled to define” what substantive rights it protects. McDonald, supra, at 810 (opinion of THOMAS, J.). The Court ordinarily says, as it does today, that theClause protects rights that are “fundamental.” Ante, at 2, 3, 7, 9. Sometimes that means rights that are “‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.’” Ante, at 3, 7 (quoting McDonald, supra, at 767 (majority opinion)).Other times, when that formulation proves too restrictive, the Court defines the universe of “fundamental” rights so broadly as to border on meaningless. See, e.g., Obergefell
v. Hodges, 576 U. S. ___, ___–___ (2015) (slip op., at 1–2) (“rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity”); Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833, 851 (1992) (“Atthe heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own conceptof existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”). Because the oxymoronic “substantive” “due process” doctrine has no basis in the Constitution, it is unsurprising that the Court has been unable toadhere to any “guiding principle to distinguish ‘fundamental’ rights that warrant protection from nonfundamental rights that do not.” McDonald, supra, at 811 (opinion of THOMAS, J.). And because the Court’s substantive due process precedents allow the Court to fashion fundamental rights without any textual constraints, it is equally unsurprising that among these precedents are some of the Court’s most notoriously incorrect decisions. E.g., Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973); Dred Scott v. Sandford, 19 How. 393, 450 (1857).
The present case illustrates the incongruity of the
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Court’s due process approach to incorporating fundamental rights against the States. Petitioner argues that the forfeiture of his vehicle is an excessive punishment. He does not argue that the Indiana courts failed to “‘proceedaccording to the “law of the land”—that is, according to written constitutional and statutory provisions,’” or thatthe State failed to provide “some baseline procedures.” Nelson v. Colorado, 581 U. S. ___, ___, n. 1 (2017) (THOMAS, J., dissenting) (slip op., at 2, n. 1). His claim has nothing to do with any “process” “due” him. I therefore decline to apply the “legal fiction” of substantive due process. McDonald, 561 U. S., at 811 (opinion ofTHOMAS, J.).
II When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, “the terms ‘privileges’ and ‘immunities’ had an established meaning as synonyms for ‘rights.’” Id., at 813. Those “rights” were the “inalienable rights” of citizens that had been “long recognized,” and “the ratifying public understood the Privileges or Immunities Clause to protect constitutionally enumerated rights” against interference bythe States. Id., at 822, 837. Many of these rights had been adopted from English law into colonial charters, thenstate constitutions and bills of rights, and finally the Constitution. “Consistent with their English heritage, the founding generation generally did not consider many of the rights identified in [the Bill of Rights] as new entitlements, but as inalienable rights of all men, given legal effect by their codification in the Constitution’s text.” Id., at 818. The question here is whether the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive fines was considered such a right. The historical record overwhelmingly demonstrates that it was.
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A The Excessive Fines Clause “was taken verbatim from the English Bill of Rights of 1689,” United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U. S. 321, 335 (1998), which itself formalized a longstanding English prohibition on disproportionate fines. The Charter of Liberties of Henry I, issued in 1101, stated that “[i]f any of my barons or men shall have committed an offence he shall not give security to the extent of forfeiture of his money, as he did in the time of my father,or of my brother, but according to the measure of the offence so shall he pay . . . .” Sources of English Legal and Constitutional History ¶8, p. 50 (M. Evans & R. Jack eds.1984) (emphasis added). Expanding this principle, Magna Carta required that “amercements (the medieval predecessors of fines) should be proportioned to the offense and that they should not deprive a wrongdoer of his livelihood,” Bajakajian, supra, at 335: “A free man shall be amerced for a small fault only according to the measure thereof, and for a great crimeaccording to its magnitude, saving his position; and inlike manner, a merchant saving his trade, and a villein saving his tillage, if they should fall under Our mercy.” Magna Carta, ch. 20 (1215), in A. Howard,Magna Carta: Text & Commentary 42 (rev. ed. 1998).
Similar clauses levying amercements “only in proportionto the measure of the offense” applied to earls, barons, andclergymen. Chs. 21–22, ibid. One historian posits that,due to the prevalence of amercements and their use in increasing the English treasury, “[v]ery likely there wasno clause in Magna Carta more grateful to the mass of the people than that about amercements.” Pleas of the Crown for the County of Gloucester xxxiv (F. Maitland ed. 1884).
The principle was reiterated in the First Statute ofWestminster, which provided that no man should “be amerced, without reasonable cause, and according to the
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quantity of his Trespass.” 3 Edw. I, ch. 6 (1275). The English courts have long enforced this principle. In one early case, for example, the King commanded the bailiff “to take a moderate amercement proper to the magnitude and manner of th[e] offense, according to the tenour of the Great Charter of the Liberties of England,” and the bailiffwas sued for extorting “a heavier ransom.” Le Gras v. Bailiff of Bishop of Winchester, Y. B. Mich. 10 Edw. II, pl. 4 (1316), reprinted in 52 Selden Society 3, 5 (1934); see also Richard Godfrey’s Case, 11 Co. Rep. 42a, 44a, 77 Eng.Rep. 1199, 1202 (1615) (excessive fines are “against law”).
During the reign of the Stuarts in the period leading upto the Glorious Revolution of 1688–1689, fines were a flashpoint “in the constitutional and political struggles between the king and his parliamentary critics.” L. Schwoerer, The Declaration of Rights, 1689, p. 91 (1981) (Schwoerer). From 1629 to 1640, Charles I attempted to govern without convening Parliament, but “in the absenceof parliamentary grants,” he needed other ways of raising revenue. 4 H. Walter, A History of England 135 (1834); see 1 T. Macaulay, History of England 85 (1899). He thus turned “to exactions, some odious and obsolete, some of very questionable legality, and others clearly against law.” 1 H. Hallam, Constitutional History of England: From the Accession of Henry VII to the Death of George II 462 (1827) (Hallam); see 4 Walter, supra, at 135.
The Court of Star Chamber, for instance, “imposedheavy fines on the king’s enemies,” Schwoerer 91, in disregard “of the provision of the Great Charter, that no man shall be amerced even to the full extent of his means. . . .” 2 Hallam 46–47. “[T]he strong interest of th[is] court in these fines . . . had a tendency to aggravate the punishment. . . .” 1 id., at 490. “The statute abolishing” the StarChamber in 1641 “specifically prohibited any court thereafter from . . . levying . . . excessive fines.” Schwoerer 91.
“But towards the end of Charles II’s reign” in the 1670s
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and early 1680s, courts again “imposed ruinous fines on the critics of the crown.” Ibid. In 1680, a committee of the House of Commons “examined the transcripts of all thefines imposed in King’s Bench since 1677” and found that“the Court of King’s Bench, in the Imposition of Fines on Offenders of late Years, hath acted arbitrarily, illegally, and partially; favouring Papists and Persons popishly affected; and excessively oppressing his Majesty’sProtestant Subjects.” Ibid.; 9 Journals of the House of Commons 692 (Dec. 23, 1680). The House of Commons determined that the actions of the judges of the King’sBench, particularly the actions of Chief Justice William Scroggs, had been so contrary to law that it preparedarticles of impeachment against him. The articles allegedthat Scroggs had “most notoriously departed from all Rules of Justice and Equality, in the Imposition of Fines upon Persons convicted of Misdemeanors” without “anyRegard to the Nature of the Offences, or the Ability of thePersons.” Id., at 698.
Yet “[o]ver the next few years fines became even more excessive and partisan.” Schwoerer 91. The King’s Bench, presided over by the infamous Chief Justice Jeffreys, fined Anglican cleric Titus Oates 2,000 marks (among otherpunishments) for perjury. Id., at 93. For speaking against the Duke of York, the sheriff of London was fined £100,000 in 1682, which corresponds to well over $10 million in present-day dollars1—“an amount, which, as it extended to the ruin of the criminal, was directly contrary to the spiritof [English] law.” The History of England Under theHouse of Stuart, pt. 2, p. 801 (1840). The King’s Benchfined Sir Samuel Barnadiston £10,000 for allegedly seditious letters, a fine that was overturned by the House of
—————— 1See Currency Converter: 1270–2017 (estimating the 2017 equivalentof £100,000 in 1680), http://nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter (as last visited Feb. 8, 2019)
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Lords as “exorbitant and excessive.” 14 Journals of the House of Lords 210 (May 14, 1689). Several members of the committees that would draft the Declaration of Rights—which included the prohibition on excessive fines that was enacted into the English Bill of Rights of 1689—had themselves “suffered heavy fines.” Schwoerer 91–92. And in 1684, judges in the case of John Hampden held that Magna Carta did not limit “fines for great offences”against the King, and imposed a £40,000 fine. Trial of Hampden, 9 State Trials 1054, 1125 (K. B. 1684); 1 J. Stephen, A History of the Criminal Law of England 490(1883).
“Freedom from excessive fines” was considered “indisputably an ancient right of the subject,” and the Declaration of Rights’ indictment against James II “charged that during his reign judges had imposed excessive fines,thereby subverting the laws and liberties of the kingdom.” Schwoerer 90. Article 10 of the Declaration declared “[t]hat excessive Bayle ought not to be required nor excessive fynes imposed nor cruel and unusuall Punishmentsinflicted.” Id., at 297.
Shortly after the English Bill of Rights was enacted,Parliament addressed several excessive fines imposed before the Glorious Revolution. For example, the House of Lords overturned a £30,000 fine against the Earl of Devonshire as “excessive and exorbitant, against MagnaCharta, the common right of the subject, and against thelaw of the land.” Case of Earl of Devonshire, 11 State Trials 1354, 1372 (K. B. 1687). Although the House ofLords refused to reverse the judgments against Titus Oates, a minority argued that his punishments were“contrary to Law and ancient Practice” and violated the prohibition on “excessive Fines.” Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U. S. 957, 971 (1991); Trial of Oates, 10 State Trials 1080, 1325 (K. B. 1685). The House of Commons passed abill to overturn Oates’s conviction, and eventually, after a
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request from Parliament, the King pardoned Oates. Id., at 1329–1330.
Writing a few years before our Constitution was adopted,Blackstone—“whose works constituted the preeminentauthority on English law for the founding generation,” Alden v. Maine, 527 U. S. 706, 715 (1999)—explained that the prohibition on excessive fines contained in the EnglishBill of Rights “had a retrospect to some unprecedentedproceedings in the court of king’s bench.” 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries 372 (1769). Blackstone confirmed that this prohibition was “only declaratory . . . of the old constitutional law of the land,” which had long “regulated” the “discretion” of the courts in imposing fines. Ibid.
In sum, at the time of the founding, the prohibition onexcessive fines was a longstanding right of Englishmen.
B “As English subjects, the colonists considered themselves to be vested with the same fundamental rights asother Englishmen,” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 816 (opinion of THOMAS, J.), including the prohibition on excessive fines. E.g., J. Dummer, A Defence of the New-England Charters 16–17 (1721) (“The Subjects Abroad claim the Privilege of Magna Charta, which says that no Man shallbe fin’d above the Nature of his Offence, and whatever his Miscarriage be, a Salvo Contenemento suo is to be observ’d by the Judge”). Thus, the text of the Eighth Amendment was “‘based directly on . . . the Virginia Declaration ofRights,’ which ‘adopted verbatim the language of the English Bill of Rights.’” Browning-Ferris Industries of Vt., Inc. v. Kelco Disposal, Inc., 492 U. S. 257, 266 (1989) (quoting Solem v. Helm, 463 U. S. 277, 285, n. 10 (1983)); see Jones v. Commonwealth, 5 Va. 555, 557 (1799) (opinion of Carrington, J.) (explaining that the clause in the Virginia Declaration of Rights embodied the traditional legal understanding that any “fine or amercement ought
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to be according to the degree of the fault and the estate of the defendant”).
When the States were considering whether to ratify theConstitution, advocates for a separate bill of rights emphasized the need for an explicit prohibition on excessive fines mirroring the English prohibition. In colonial times, fines were “the drudge-horse of criminal justice,” “probably the most common form of punishment.” L. Friedman, Crime and Punishment in American History 38 (1993). To some, this fact made a constitutional prohibition on excessive fines all the more important. As the well-known Anti-Federalist Brutus argued in an essay, a prohibition on excessive fines was essential to “the security of liberty”and was “as necessary under the general government asunder that of the individual states; for the power of theformer is as complete to the purpose of requiring bail, imposing fines, inflicting punishments, . . . and seizing . . . property . . . as the other.” Brutus II (Nov. 1, 1787), in The Complete Bill of Rights 621 (N. Cogan ed. 1997). Similarly,during Virginia’s ratifying convention, Patrick Henrypointed to Virginia’s own prohibition on excessive finesand said that it would “depart from the genius of yourcountry” for the Federal Constitution to omit a similarprohibition. Debate on Virginia Convention (June 14,1788), in 3 Debates on the Federal Constitution 447 (J. Elliot 2d ed. 1854). Henry continued: “[W]hen we come topunishments, no latitude ought to be left, nor dependence put on the virtue of representatives” to “define punishments without this control.” Ibid.
Governor Edmund Randolph responded to Henry, arguing that Virginia’s charter was “nothing more than aninvestiture, in the hands of the Virginia citizens, of thoserights which belonged to British subjects.” Id., at 466. According to Randolph, “the exclusion of excessive bail andfines . . . would follow of itself without a bill of rights,” for such fines would never be imposed absent “corruption in
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the House of Representatives, Senate, and President,” or judges acting “contrary to justice.” Id., at 467–468.
For all the debate about whether an explicit prohibition on excessive fines was necessary in the Federal Constitution, all agreed that the prohibition on excessive fines was a well-established and fundamental right of citizenship. When the Excessive Fines Clause was eventually considered by Congress, it received hardly any discussion before “it was agreed to by a considerable majority.” 1 Annals of Cong. 754 (1789). And when the Bill of Rights was ratified, most of the States had a prohibition on excessivefines in their constitutions.2
Early commentary on the Clause confirms the widespread agreement about the fundamental nature of the prohibition on excessive fines. Justice Story, writing a few decades before the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, explained that the Eighth Amendment was “adopted, as an admonition to all departments of the nationalgovernment, to warn them against such violent proceedings, as had taken place in England in the arbitrary reignsof some of the Stuarts,” when “[e]normous fines and amercements were . . . sometimes imposed.” 3 J. Story,Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States §1896, pp. 750–751 (1833). Story included the prohibition
—————— 2Del. Const., Art. I, §11 (1792), in 1 Federal and State Constitutions 569 (F. Thorpe ed. 1909); Md. Const., Decl. of Rights, Art. XXII (1776),in 3 id., at 1688; Mass. Const., pt. 1, Art. XXVI (1780), in id., at 1892;
N. H. Const., pt. 1, Art. 1, §XXXIII (1784), in 4 id., at 2457; N. C. Const., Decl. of Rights, Art. X (1776), in 5 id., at 2788; Pa. Const., Art. IX, §13 (1790), in id., at 3101; S. C. Const., Art. IX, §4 (1790), in 6 id., at 3264; Va. Const., Bill of Rights, §9 (1776), in 7 id., at 3813. Vermont had a clause specifying that “all fines shall be proportionate to the offences.” Vt. Const., ch. II, §XXIX (1786), in id., at 3759. Georgia’s 1777 Constitution had an excessive fines clause, Art. LIX, but its 1789 Constitution did not. And the Northwest Ordinance provided that “[a]llfines shall be moderate; and no cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.” §14, Art. 2 (1787)
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on excessive fines as a right, along with the “right to bear arms” and others protected by the Bill of Rights, that “operates, as a qualification upon powers, actually grantedby the people to the government”; without such a “re-strict[ion],” the government’s “exercise or abuse” of its power could be “dangerous to the people.” Id., §1858, at 718–719.
Chancellor Kent likewise described the Eighth Amendment as part of the “right of personal security . . . guardedby provisions which have been transcribed into the constitutions in this country from magna carta, and other fundamental acts of the English Parliament.” 2 J. Kent, Commentaries on American Law 9 (1827). He understood the Eighth Amendment to “guard against abuse and oppression,” and emphasized that “the constitutions of almost every state in the Unio[n] contain the same declarations in substance, and nearly in the same language.” Ibid. Accordingly, “they must be regarded as fundamentaldoctrines in every state, for all the colonies were parties tothe national declaration of rights in 1774, in which the . . . rights and liberties of English subjects were peremptorilyclaimed as their undoubted inheritance and birthright.” Ibid.; accord, W. Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States of America 125 (1825) (describing the prohibition on excessive fines as “founded on the plainest principles of justice”).
C The prohibition on excessive fines remained fundamental at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1868, 35 of 37 state constitutions “expressly prohibited excessivefines.” Ante, at 5. Nonetheless, as the Court notes, abuses of fines continued, especially through the Black Codes adopted in several States. Ante, at 5–6. The “centerpiece”of the Codes was their “attempt to stabilize the black workforce and limit its economic options apart from plantation
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labor.” E. Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863–1877, p. 199 (1988). Under the Codes, “the state would enforce labor agreements and plantationdiscipline, punish those who refused to contract, andprevent whites from competing among themselves for black workers.” Ibid. The Codes also included “‘antienticement’ measures punishing anyone offering higherwages to an employee already under contract.” Id., at 200.
The 39th Congress focused on these abuses during itsdebates over the Fourteenth Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and the Freedmen’s Bureau Act. During those well-publicized debates, Members of Congress consistently highlighted and lamented the “severe penalties” inflicted by the Black Codes and similar measures, Cong.Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 474 (1866) (Sen. Trumbull),suggesting that the prohibition on excessive fines was understood to be a basic right of citizenship.
For example, under Mississippi law, adult “freedmen,free negroes and mulattoes” “without lawful employment” faced $50 in fines and 10 days’ imprisonment for vagrancy.Reports of Assistant Commissioners of Freedmen, and Synopsis of Laws on Persons of Color in Late Slave States,
S. Exec. Doc. No. 6, 39th Cong., 2d Sess., §2, p. 192 (1867).Those convicted had five days to pay or they would bearrested and leased to “any person who will, for the shortest period of service, pay said fine and forfeiture and all costs.” §5, ibid. Members of Congress criticized such laws“for selling [black] men into slavery in punishment of crimes of the slightest magnitude.” Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 1123 (1866) (Rep. Cook); see id., at 1124 (“It is idle to say these men will be protected by theStates”).
Similar examples abound. One congressman noted thatAlabama’s “aristocratic and anti-republican laws, almost reenacting slavery, among other harsh inflictions impose . . . a fine of fifty dollars and six months’ imprisonment on
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any servant or laborer (white or black) who loiters awayhis time or is stubborn or refractory.” Id., at 1621 (Rep.Myers). He also noted that Florida punished vagrantswith “a fine not exceeding $500 and imprison[ment] for aterm not exceeding twelve months, or by being sold for a term not exceeding twelve months, at the discretion of the court.” Ibid. At the time, such fines would have been ruinous for laborers. Cf. id., at 443 (Sen. Howe) (“A thousand dollars! That sells a negro for his life”).
These and other examples of excessive fines from the historical record informed the Nation’s consideration of the Fourteenth Amendment. Even those opposed to civil-rights legislation understood the Privileges or ImmunitiesClause to guarantee those “fundamental principles” “fixed” by the Constitution, including “immunity from . . . excessive fines.” 2 Cong. Rec. 384–385 (1874) (Rep. Mills); see also id., at App. 241 (Sen. Norwood). And every post-1855state constitution banned excessive fines. S. Calabresi &
S. Agudo, Individual Rights Under State Constitutions When the Fourteenth Amendment Was Ratified in 1868, 87 Texas L. Rev. 7, 82 (2008). The attention given to abusive fines at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment, along with the ubiquity of state excessive-fines provisions,demonstrates that the public continued to understand theprohibition on excessive fines to be a fundamental right of American citizenship.
* * * The right against excessive fines traces its lineage back in English law nearly a millennium, and from the founding of our country, it has been consistently recognized as acore right worthy of constitutional protection. As a constitutionally enumerated right understood to be a privilege of American citizenship, the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive fines applies in full to the States.

Outcome: The Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the States under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

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