Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, Inc., 537 U.S. 393, 21 (2003)

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

Stevens, J., dissenting

Because this construction of the Hobbs Act has been so uniform, I only discuss a few of the more significant cases. For example, in United States v. Tropiano, 418 F. 2d 1069 (1969), the Second Circuit held that threats of physical violence to persuade the owners of a competing trash removal company to refrain from soliciting customers in certain areas violated the Hobbs Act. The court's reasoning is directly applicable to these cases:

"The application of the Hobbs Act to the present facts of this case has been seriously challenged by the appellants upon the ground that the Government's evidence indicates that no 'property' was extorted and that there was no interference or attempted interference with interstate commerce. They assert that nothing more than 'the right to do business' in the Milford area was surrendered by Caron and that such a right was not 'property' 'obtained' by the appellants, as those terms are used in the Act. While they concede that rubbish removal accounts which are purchased and sold are probably property, they argue that the right to solicit business is amorphous and cannot be squared with the Congressional expression in the Act of 'obtaining property.' The Hobbs Act 'speaks in broad language, manifesting a purpose to use all the constitutional power Congress has to punish interference with interstate commerce by extortion, robbery or physical violence.' Stirone v. United States, 361 U. S. 212, 215 (1960). The concept of property under the Hobbs Act, as devolved from its legislative history and numerous decisions, is not limited to physical or tangible property or things (United States v. Provenzano, 334 F. 2d 678 (3d Cir. 1964); United States v. Nedley, 255 F. 2d 350 (3d Cir. 1958)), but includes, in a broad sense, any valuable right considered as a source or element of wealth (Bianchi v. United States, 219 F. 2d 182 (8th Cir. 1955)), and does not depend upon a direct benefit being conferred on the


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