Its hard to believe this has been happening legally in many states. Would seem like SCOTUS should rule it’s unconstitutional. That is unless some state officials are willing to lavish a few with gifts for a favorable ruling.

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Different article on the same case:


Somewhat unrelated, but I hate “reason” magazine for calling itself “reason”.

Even here, Reason tells a sob-story “Although he was still sick, he rushed back to his job after the government took the value of their house—essentially their life savings. He fell, sustained a severe brain injury, and died.”

While npr adds a point that is crucial to the case and completely undermines the soppiness factor-- “Tyler had no equity in the home at the time of the forfeiture because she owed $48,000 on her mortgage and more than $11,000 in homeowner’s association fees.”

(and in further unrelatedness, I wish all the conservatives of the world went back to the land of cold hard actuarial logic, and let liberals ride the feels instead.)

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Maybe this case, but it’s happening in many other cases as well. The general question remains: when state/local governments seize property for unpaid taxes, if the sale of seized assets exceeds the amount owed to the state who should the proceeds go to? Most states would say the property owner, but apparently not for this subset of states that have this particular style of forfeiture law.


I agree it’s a legitimately good question.

If the state is tacking on fees and expenses, what possible argument is there for doing anything other than refunding the excess to the property owner? Or at a minimum using it to satisfy other debts of the property owner?

Anything else feels like theft.

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Cuz state wants money and who is going to standup for poor dead beats who don’t pay their property tax?

It seems like anything over the delinquent taxes, penalties, interest and expenses associated with the sale seems unreasonable. If they have other debts, that should be a matter for the bankruptcy court and not related to the state seizing the property to pay back taxes. Though I suppose any excess would first go to pay off a 1st mortgage, 2nd mortgage, HELOC etc. (in any) and then the remainder should be returned to the tax payer.

From what I can read on the cases:

Minnesota Case:
As Srendi mentioned, 15k owed in taxes, 48k mortgage and 11k HOA fees. Sold at auction for 40k.
From what I can tell in MN there isn’t deficiency judgement on a tax foreclosure so I think the mortgage and maybe HOA liability got wiped out when state foreclosed on the home.

There is also a 3 year period from when the state first puts a tax lien on a property and starts the foreclosure process. And another 90 days that they can re-possess it after that.

Seems unlikely that someone with equity goes through all that, which in this case they clearly didn’t.
Feels like the mortgage company would have more standing than the homeowner.

Probably more likely that someone was wronged here.
County foreclosed on property. City was able to buy properties for minimum bid (outstanding property tax amount) before auction. City sold properties for $1 to a revitalization company. Company flipped the properties.

I’m guessing similar to the MN case there probably isn’t equity here either. City was willing to give away the property to someone that made it livable.

Maybe I suck, but I’m not terribly upset at someone losing equity they probably didn’t even actually have after being warned for years what was going to happen. Auctioning, then servicing the debt on the property feels like a better process but not sure I’d call anything other than that a constitutional violation.

Even if she didn’t have any equity, shouldn’t the excess from the sale have gone to the lender and/or HOA? Why should the state get to keep it?

The lender and HOA were wronged in this case it seems. Maybe they’re not as sympathetic as a little old lady, but they were entitled to something. Or at least one of them was. (Not sure how it works when there’s not enough to go around. Is one senior to the other or do they get a pro rata share?)

The lender also has the ability to pay the taxes themselves and foreclose on the house to collect taxes + outstanding mortgage. In that case I’m pretty sure any equity would go back to the homeowner. Seems like the mortgage company was fine to just let it go.

Well regardless, there is no possible justification for the state (county?) keeping more than what they are owed plus expenses.

however the statute is written, it should not be allowed once you include the expenses of being made whole. just encourages predatory practices IMO

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They got one right.

Now they need to squash civil asset forfeiture.


Interesting, the article I read said that the MN law failed because there was no way for the home owner to attempt to recover the excess. I guess other states have similar laws but aren’t going to be affected the same because they provide a way for the home owner to recover the excess. Not that it is an easy process, I would imagine.

Also, it sounded like the plaintiff was also looking for a ruling on “excessive fees.” The taxes owed were just over 2K with interest and fees of 13K. 2 justices in a concurring opinion seemed to say that those would probably have been ruled excessive had they reached them.

And I agree with you on the civil asset forfeiture. Utah banned the practice but it is still available at the federal level and the feds will share the booty with the local entity that helps them seize it, at like 75% or so. So the local entities will contact the feds to basically get their sign off on it and then help with the seizure and then still get to keep most of it.

My goodness…maybe they’re on a roll.

Kavanaugh and Roberts joined the liberal SCOTUS Justices, overturning Alabama’s gerrymandered map (which the Court had declined to enjoin from being used for the midterms) on civil rights grounds. (I.e., the Alabama state legislature should have been able to draw reasonable districts that caused two of the seven to be African-American majority (and probably D-leaning) given the state’s demographics…but they instead chose to have only one such district (giving R’s 6 safe seats).)

Would have thought this allowable as a parody, as surely no one is confusing this with actual Jack Daniels. It was a unanimous decision

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It’s my understanding that legally for a parody to qualify under fair use it may need to make a commentary or critique on what is being parodied. While typically brands won’t raise a dispute over parodies or references that are just for fun, it’s not clear to me whether those kinds of parodies are technically protected under fair use.

I’m somewhat surprised and thankful that SCOTUS tossed the Independent State Legislature theory


Does it stop legislatures from amending constitutions or, worse, having Propositions on the ballot restricting Voting Rights (Voting for me, not for thee!)?

No. But at least they are subject to state and US judicial review. The argument was that state legislators have unlimited authority over elections and there is no forum to contest their decisions