Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.
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 of home 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.
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 a hearing 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,
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. The Indiana
Supreme Court did not decide whether the forfeit-ure
would be excessive. Instead, it held that the Exces
sive Fines Clause constrains only federal action and
is inapplicable to state impositions. We granted
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, , 767 (2010) The Excessive Fines Clause is therefore incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
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.” 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 applicable to the States. 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.”
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.” Thus, if a Bill of Rights protection is incorporated, there is no daylight between the federal and state conduct it prohibits or requires.
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.”. 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.’ ” 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 . . . .” 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.”
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 un-able to pay. When James II was
overthrown in the Glorious Revolution, the attendant
English Bill of Rights reaffirmed Magna Carta’s
guarantee by providing that “excessive Bail ought not
to be required, nor excessive Fines imposed; nor cruel
and unusual Punishments inflicted.”
Across the Atlantic, this familiar language was adopted almost verbatim, first in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, then in the Eighth Amendment, which states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
of the Excessive Fines Clause was in tune not only
with English law; the Clause resonated as well with
similar colonial-era provisions. 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. . . .
Today, acknowledgment of the right’s fundamental nature remains widespread. As Indiana itself reports, all 50 States have a constitutional provision prohibiting the imposition of excessive fines either directly or by requiring proportionality.
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. 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.” This concern is scarcely hypothetical. See Brief for American Civil Liberties Union et al. as Amici Curiae 7 (“Perhaps because they are politically easier to impose than generally applicable taxes, state and local governments nationwide increasingly depend heavily on fines and fees as a source of general revenue.”).
In short, the historical 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.”. . .
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.
1 The sole exception is our holding that the Sixth Amendment requires jury unanimity in federal, but not state, criminal proceedings. Apodaca v. Oregon, (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.