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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — When Tyson Timbs was convicted of selling heroin to undercover police officers in Indiana, he was sentenced to a year of home detention and five years of probation. But the state also took away his expensive car.

On Wednesday, he’ll urge the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the same provision of the U.S. Constitution that prevents the federal government from imposing excessive fines also applies to the states.

One of the central reasons for adopting the Constitution was to restrict the power of the federal government. For that reason, though it may seem surprising, the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government when it was enacted.

Over time, the Supreme Court has ruled case-by-case that most of those protections also apply to the states. The most recent example came in 2010 when the court said the Second Amendment restricts state gun control efforts as well as federal ones.

Even so, the court has yet to apply a few remaining provisions to the states, and the Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive fines is one of them. The amendment’s other two restrictions, forbidding cruel and unusual punishment and banning excessive bail, have been declared to restrict state authority as well.

Both sides in Wednesday’s case agree on the facts: Timbs became addicted to an opioid prescription for persistent foot pain. When that supply ran out, he turned to drug dealers and eventually to heroin. To pay for his addiction, he began dealing heroin and was arrested after he twice sold to undercover police officers.

The police said he used his car to facilitate the drug deals — a $42,000 Land Rover that he bought with money he received from his father’s life insurance policy — and the state instituted a forfeiture lawsuit to take it away from him.

Timbs fought to keep the vehicle, and the judge said the punishment of losing his car would be “grossly disproportionate” to the seriousness of his offense, given that the value of the Land Rover was more than four times the maximum fine for the drug conviction. But the Indiana Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines doesn’t apply to the states.

The lawyers for Timbs say it should apply, for the same reasons the Supreme Court has cited in applying other constitutional provisions to the states — that the right is a fundamental liberty interest and is deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions.

Indiana argues in response that even if the ban on excessive fines applies to the states, the restriction should involve only personal fines that a person has to pay, not on the seizure of property used to commit a crime.

Civil liberties groups, led by the ACLU, urge the court to rule for Timbs. They say the past 30 years have bought an unprecedented rise in fines, fees and forfeitures “driven by a quest to generate revenue and to fund state and local justice systems.”

The penalties have hit low-income people especially hard, often causing them to lose their jobs and their homes, the groups say.

After hearing courtroom argument on Wednesday, the court will issue its decision by the end of the term in late June.



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John Delaney Talks About Health Care at ‘Politics & Eggs’ in NH

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Former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate John Delaney was the latest speaker in the “Politics & Eggs” event series on Tuesday.

From 2012 to 2018, the Democrat represented Maryland’s 6th congressional district. Prior to his political career, Delaney was a nonprofit leader, entrepreneur and business leader.

Delaney was one of the first Democrats to announce his run for the 2020 presidency after he announced it in July 2017.

“Politics & Eggs” is an event that is a traditional stop for White House hopefuls as they canvas New Hampshire ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Bristol County Sheriff’s Office



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House GOP leaders hold off on backing border deal

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Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Rebecca Shabad, Kasie Hunt, Alex Moe and Garrett Haake

WASHINGTON — Top Republican leaders in the House said Wednesday morning that they’re not yet ready to endorse a border security funding deal reached by negotiators that would prevent another partial government shutdown.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he would support the agreement if the final legislative text — which has not yet been released — reflects the overarching framework.

“Is this a down payment [on the wall]?” McCarthy said during his weekly press conference. “If the language comes out the way the structure is told to me, I would support this, but I want to make sure I read the language and make sure we are giving the president the down payment he needs while he still has the tools to finish the job.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who’s more closely aligned with the conservative Freedom Caucus, said he would first need to see the full text of the bill, which lawmakers expect to land later Wednesday.

“I haven’t seen the language. I want to see the final deal,” Scalise said when asked if he intends to vote for it.

The two GOP leaders may also may be waiting to hear explicitly from President Donald Trump that he supports the deal, which House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the House will vote on late Thursday night.

Trump is expected to sign the legislation to avoid a second shutdown, three sources familiar with his thinking told NBC News on Wednesday, but nothing is set in stone. Those sources include two Republicans who have spoken with the president and an administration official close to the process. All cautioned that the legislative text has still not been finalized.

Democrats could pass the deal without Republican votes, but McCarthy and Scalise could easily influence the president.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared to express support for the agreement in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday. “It’s time to get this done,” he said.

“It goes without saying that neither side is getting everything it wants. That’s the way it goes in divided government. If the text of the bill reflects the principles agreed to on Monday, it won’t be a perfect deal — but it will be a good deal,” McConnell said.

Democrats have said they are largely satisfied with the parameters of the deal.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., briefly told reporters that the deal is a win for the American people. Following a closed-door meeting with the House Democratic Caucus, Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters that an “overwhelming majority” of their members will support the legislation.

“This legislation is a product of trying to find common ground. We made it clear from the beginning that we would not support funding a medieval border wall that would be built from sea to shining sea,” he said.

Some conservatives have bashed the deal, including Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who said on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning that he was “disappointed” with the agreement.

“I mean, Congress should do better. Now, that doesn’t mean that the president won’t sign it to keep the government open and use it as a tool to do that,” Meadows said. “What we have to do is have to encourage the president to take some type of executive action if Congress is not gonna work.”

While the agreement in principle was reached Monday night by top appropriators, they’re still putting the finishing touches on the measure.

“We are still converting an agreement in principle into legislative text. That’s tricky and there are bound to be issues that arise,” a source familiar with the process told NBC News.

“It’s pretty much wrapped up,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., a member of the conference committee that led the negotiations.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters Wednesday that while he believes they’re going to get it done, “believing and doing is two different things.” He added that he told Trump Tuesday night that the agreement marked a down payment, a multiyear deal to secure the border.

Asked if he thinks Trump understands that he won’t receive everything he wants, Shelby said, “I think he does, I think he understands that, but like every president, or like every senator, would like to have it our way.”

Marianna Sotomayor contributed.



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Angela Merkel vows to help Theresa May WIN 'orderly Brexit' as EU exit deadline looms

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ANGELA Merkel has promised to help Theresa May win an “orderly” Brexit as the countdown to the UK’s exit from the European Union is well underway.

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