Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, Inc., 537 U.S. 393, 9 (2003)

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next

Cite as: 537 U. S. 393 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

the doctors, nurses or other clinic staff to perform their jobs, and the right of the clinics to provide medical services free from wrongful threats, violence, coercion and fear." Jury Instruction No. 24, App. 136. Perhaps recognizing the apparent difficulty in reconciling either its position (that "giv[ing] up" these alleged property rights is sufficient) or the Court of Appeals' holding (that "interfer[ing] with such rights" is sufficient) with the requirement that petitioners "obtain[ed] . . . property from" them, respondents have shifted the thrust of their theory. 267 F. 3d, at 709. Respondents now assert that petitioners violated the Hobbs Act by "seeking to get control of the use and disposition of respondents' property." Brief for Respondents 24. They argue that because the right to control the use and disposition of an asset is property, petitioners, who interfered with, and in some instances completely disrupted, the ability of the clinics to function, obtained or attempted to obtain respondents' property.

The United States offers a view similar to that of respondents, asserting that "where the property at issue is a business's intangible right to exercise exclusive control over the use of its assets, [a] defendant obtains that property by obtaining control over the use of those assets." Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 22. Although the Government acknowledges that the jury's finding of extortion may have been improperly based on the conclusion that petitioners deprived respondents of a liberty interest,5 it maintains that under its theory of liability, petitioners committed extortion.

5 The Solicitor General agreed at oral argument that even if we accept the Government's view as to extortion under the Hobbs Act, the cases must be remanded because the generalized jury instruction regarding federal extortion included a woman's right to seek medical services as a property right petitioners could extort from respondents; a right he acknowledged is more accurately characterized as an individual liberty interest. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 30-31.


Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007