Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, Inc., 537 U.S. 393, 15 (2003)

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

Opinion of the Court

Act contained both a section explicitly prohibiting coercion and a section prohibiting the offense of extortion as defined by the Field Code and New York Penal Code. See ch. 569, 2(a) and 2(b).

Several years af ter the enactment of the Anti-Racketeering Act, this Court decided United States v. Team-sters, 315 U. S. 521 (1942). In Teamsters, this Court construed an exception provided in the Anti-Racketeering Act for the payment of wages by a bona fide employer to a bona fide employee to find that the Act "did not cover the actions of union truckdrivers who exacted money by threats or violence from out-of-town drivers in return for undesired and often unutilized services." United States v. Culbert, 435 U. S. 371, 377 (1978) (citing Teamsters, supra). "Congressional disapproval of this decision was swift," and the Hobbs Act was subsequently enacted to supersede the Anti-Racketeering Act and reverse the result in Teamsters. Enmons, 410 U. S., at 402, and n. 8. The Act prohibited interference with commerce by "robbery or extortion" but, as explained above, did not mention coercion.

This omission of coercion is particularly significant in light of the fact that after Teamsters, a "paramount congressional concern" in drafting the Hobbs Act "was to be clear about what conduct was prohibited." Culbert, supra, at 378.12

Accordingly, the Act "carefully defines its key terms, such as 'robbery,' 'extortion,' and 'commerce.' " 435 U. S., at 373. Thus, while coercion and extortion certainly overlap to the extent that extortion necessarily involves the use of coercive

these crimes found in the penal law of the State of New York and other jurisdictions." S. Rep. No. 1189, 75th Cong., 1st Sess., 3 (1937); United States v. Culbert, 435 U. S. 371, 375-376 (1978).

12 As we reported in Culbert, supra, at 378: "Indeed, many Congressmen praised the [Hobbs Act] because it set out with more precision the conduct that was being made criminal. As Representative Hobbs noted, the words robbery and extortion 'have been construed a thousand times by the courts. Everybody knows what they mean' " (quoting 91 Cong. Rec. 11912 (1945)).


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