The Massachusetts Libertarian Party has adopted several resolutions over the past two months designed to establish both a position and series of strategies for the party moving forward on relevant issues of liberty.
While resolutions by a political party — like platform positions — are often overlooked, or even ignored, by party members going forward, these are divergent from past party resolutions in an important way. First, it should be stressed that establishing a libertarian case against civil asset forfeiture itself is not new, nor on the surface do resolutions by party leaders actually do anything to make civil asset forfeiture laws imposed upon civilians less likely.
What’s unique about these resolutions which we’ve been publishing in on this blog over the past couple of days is the call for citizen resistance and direct citizen action against these unconstitutional and invalid laws using Jeffersonian nullification, Madisonian interposition, and civil disobedience in the style of Massachusetts’ own Henry David Thoreau. For the first time in party history, the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts is not limiting itself to purely electoral and ballot measure means toward securing liberty; we’re seeking out full-spectrum peaceful resistance to government overreach. And we’re asking our members to take non-violent action directly, by themselves, and in concert with others who are willing.
The form of the resolutions is pretty simple: They cite a series of constitutional texts as supports for our position defending natural liberty of all people, followed by a recommended course (or courses) of action against immoral and illegal actions by government.
Here’s the full text of the resolution against civil asset forfeiture the state committee adopted:
Whereas: Article 12 of the Massachusetts Constitution, in the Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, recognizes that “no subject shall be held to answer for any crimes or offense, until the same is fully and plainly, substantially and formally, described to him; or be compelled to accuse, or furnish evidence against himself, that every subject shall have a right to produce all proofs, that may be favorable to him; to meet the witnesses against him face to face, and to be fully heard in his defense by himself, or his council at his election, and no subject shall be arrested, imprisoned, despoiled, or deprived of his property, immunities, or privileges, put out of the protection of the law, exiled, or deprived of his life, liberty, or estate, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.”
Whereas: Article 14 of the Massachusetts Constitution, in the Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, recognizes that “every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures, of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions, and that all warrants, therefore, are contrary to this right, if the cause or foundation of them be not previously supported by oath or affirmation; and if the order in the warrant to a civil officer, to make search in suspected places, or to arrest one or more suspected persons, or to seize their property, be not accompanied with a special designation of the persons or objects of search, arrest, or seizure.”
Whereas: Article 15 of the Massachusetts Constitution, in the Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, provides that “in all controversies concerning property, and in all suits between two or more persons, except in cases in which it has heretofore been otherways used and practiced, the parties have a right to a trial by jury; and this method of procedure shall be held sacred.”
Whereas: Article 106 of the Massachusetts Constitution, in the Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, recognizes that “all people are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness, and that quality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin.”
Whereas: Article 6 paragraph 2 of the United States Constitution reads: “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”
Whereas: Article 6 paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution reads: “The senators and representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Whereas: The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution recognizes that the fundamental “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Whereas: The 5th Amendment to the US Constitution recognizes that the fundamental right of each individual “shall not be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, nor shall (they) be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”
Whereas: The 6th Amendment to the US Constitution recognizes that the fundamental right “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
Whereas: The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution provides that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Whereas: 18 U.S. Code § 242 – Provides punishment for deprivation of rights under color of law or all in the employment of government.
Now, Therefore: The Libertarian Party of Massachusetts proclaims that the practice of civil asset forfeiture is null, void, notwithstanding and absolutely forbidden within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that any government official practicing civil asset forfeiture henceforth by its name or other imagined usurpation of the people’s rights shall be understood to be in violation of her or his oaths of office, shall be given no deference by the party, and that the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts shall offer support to those who act against and to nullify these unjust practices.
Adopted unanimously (9-0 vote) by the state committee of the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts on July 12, 2022.