Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255, 17 (1992)

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

Opinion of the Court

recognized by any Court of Appeals, and is not advanced in any scholarly commentary.23

The judgment is affirmed.

It is so ordered.

23 Moreover, the dissent attempts to have it both ways in its use of common-law history. It wants to draw an artificial line and say that we should only look at American common law and not at the more ancient English common law (even though the latter provided the roots for the former), see post, at 280-281, and at the same time, it criticizes the Court for relying on a " 'modern' view of extortion," post, at 285-286, n. 4; it also uses a 1961 case, which was decided 15 years after the enactment of the Hobbs Act, to explain the American view of the common-law crime of extortion at the time of the Act, see ibid., even though it claims that we are only supposed to look at "the American understanding of the crime at the time the Hobbs Act was passed in 1946." Post, at 281. Moreover, the 1961 case that it cites, State v. Begyn, 34 N. J. 35, 46, 167 A. 2d 161, 166, in which a sanitary inspector was charged with extortion for accepting payments by a scavenger who held a garbage removal contract and who made payments in order to ensure the continuation of the contract, merely supports the proposition that extortion was not limited to the over-payment of fees. The common-law crime of extortion was broader than the dissent now attempts to paint it, and in any of the historical periods to which the dissent wants to point there are cases that are contrary to the dissent's narrow view. For "modern" cases, see Begyn, supra, and State v. Barts, 132 N. J. L. 74, 38 A. 2d 838 (1944); for early American common-law cases, see supra, at 269-270; and for English common-law cases, see, e. g., 36 Lincoln Record Society, A Lincolnshire Assize Roll for 1298, p. 74, no. 322 (W. Thomson ed. 1944) (Adam of Lung (1298)) (was convicted of extortion for accepting payment to spare a man from having to contribute to an official collection of a quantity of malt); 10 Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, A. D. 1354-1358, p. 449 (1909) (Hugh de Elmes-hale (1356)) (coroner would not perform his "office without great ransoms and that he used to extort money from the people by false and feigned indictments"); Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward II, A. D. 1313-1317, pp. 681-682 (1898) (Robert de Somery (1317)) (Robert de Somery, commissioner of array for Worcester received money from men "in order that by his connivance they might escape service and remain at home"); 1 Middlesex County Records (Old Series) 69 (J. Jeaffreson ed. 1886) (Smythe (1570)) (one of Queen Elizabeth's providers of wagons for ale and beer "by color of his office took extortionately" payments from the wagon owners to exonerate them from their obligations to the Queen).


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