Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255, 7 (1992)

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Cite as: 504 U. S. 255 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

as it applies to official extortion, has narrowed the common-law definition.

Congress has unquestionably expanded the common-law definition of extortion to include acts by private individuals pursuant to which property is obtained by means of force, fear, or threats. It did so by implication in the Travel Act, 18 U. S. C. 1952, see United States v. Nardello, 393 U. S. 286, 289-296 (1969), and expressly in the Hobbs Act. The portion of the Hobbs Act that is relevant to our decision today provides:

"(a) Whoever in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempts or conspires so to do, or commits or threatens physical violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do anything in violation of this section shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

"(b) As used in this section—

. . . . . "(2) The term 'extortion' means the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right." 18 U. S. C. 1951.

The present form of the statute is a codification of a 1946 enactment, the Hobbs Act,8 which amended the federal Anti-Racketeering Act.9 In crafting the 1934 Act, Congress was

8 The 1946 enactment provides: "The term 'extortion' means the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.' " Act of July 3, 1946, ch. 537, 1(c), 60 Stat. 420.

9 Section 2(b) of the 1934 Act read as follows: "Sec. 2. Any person who, in connection with or in relation to any act in any way or in any degree affecting trade or commerce or any article or commodity moving or about to move in trade or commerce—

. . . . .

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