United States v. Wells, 519 U.S. 482, 12 (1997)

Page:   Index   Previous  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  Next

Cite as: 519 U. S. 482 (1997)

Opinion of the Court

materiality requirements and lost them in the course of consolidation.13 See Williams v. United States, 458 U. S. 279, 288 (1982). The most likely inference in these circumstances is that Congress deliberately dropped the term "materiality" without intending materiality to be an element of 1014. See United States v. Shabani, 513 U. S. 10, 13-14 (1994).14

12 U. S. C. 1122 (1946 ed.) ("mak[ing] any statement, knowing it to be false, for the purpose of obtaining . . . any advance"); 1123 (1946 ed.) ("willfully overvalu[ing] any property offered as security"); 12 U. S. C. 1248 (1946 ed.) ("mak[ing] any statement . . . knowing the same to be false"); 12 U. S. C. 1312 (1946 ed.) ("mak[ing] any statement, knowing it to be false, for the purpose of obtaining"); 12 U. S. C. 1313 (1946 ed.) ("willfully overvalu[ing] any property offered as security"); 12 U. S. C. 1441(a) (1946 ed.) ("mak[ing] any statement, knowing it to be false, . . . for the purpose of influencing"); 12 U. S. C. 1467(a) (1946 ed.) ("mak[ing] any statement, knowing it to be false, . . . for the purpose of influencing"); 15 U. S. C. 616(a) (1946 ed.) ("mak[ing] any statement knowing it to be false . . . for the purpose of obtaining . . . or for the purpose of influencing").

13 See 7 U. S. C. 1026(a) (1946 ed.) (making a "material representation"); 12 U. S. C. 596 (1946 ed.) (making a "material statement"); and 12 U. S. C. 1138d(a) (1946 ed.) (making a "material representation").

14 Justice Stevens suggests that because he can discern no meaningful difference between the subject matter and penalties involved in the 42 sections of the United States Code criminalizing false statements that expressly include a materiality requirement, and the 54 sections criminalizing false statements that lack an express materiality requirement, we must infer that Congress intended all of the sections to include a materiality element. See post, at 505-509. In other words, Congress must have thought that including materiality in 42 statutes was surplusage. This, of course, is contrary to our presumption that each term in a criminal statute carries meaning. See Bailey v. United States, 516 U. S. 137, 145 (1995). Moreover, the dissent's approach to statutory interpretation leads to remarkable results. The statutes cited by the dissent contain a variety of different requirements; for example, some criminalize statements only if they were made with a particular intent, see, e. g., 18 U. S. C. 1919; 33 U. S. C. 931, while others do not, see, e. g., 7 U. S. C. 13(a)(3); 7 U. S. C. 6407(e). Under our colleague's reasoning, unless a court could readily discern a meaningful difference between these two categories of statutes, apart from the language used, it should import the mens rea requirements expressly appearing in some sections to those that lack them.

493

Page:   Index   Previous  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007