Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, Inc., 537 U.S. 393, 24 (2003)

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416

SCHEIDLER v. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR

WOMEN, INC.

Stevens, J., dissenting

rights to engage in the business of providing abortion services for fear of future attacks." Id., at 393. Judge Kearse described how this behavior fell well within the reach of the Hobbs Act:

"[P]roperty may be tangible or intangible, and the property at issue here was the intangible right to conduct business free from threats of violence and physical harm. . . . A perpetrator plainly may 'obtai[n]' property without receiving anything, for obtaining includes 'attain[ing] . . . disposal of,' Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1559 (1976); and 'disposal' includes 'the regulation of the fate . . . of something,' id. at 655. Thus, even when an extortionist has not taken possession of the property that the victim has relinquished, she has nonetheless 'obtain[ed]' that property if she has used violence to force her victim to abandon it. The fact that the target of a threat or attack may have refused to relinquish his property does not lessen the extortionist's liability under the Hobbs Act, for the Act, by its terms, also reaches attempts. See 18 U. S. C. 1951(a); McLaughlin v. Anderson, 962 F. 2d 187, 194 (2d Cir. 1992).

"In sum, where the property in question is the victim's right to conduct a business free from threats of violence and physical harm, a person who has committed or threatened violence or physical harm in order to induce abandonment of that right has obtained, or attempted to obtain, property within the meaning of the Hobbs Act." Id., at 394.

In my opinion Judge Kearse's analysis of the issue is manifestly correct. Even if the issue were close, however, three additional considerations provide strong support for her conclusion. First, the uniform construction of the statute that has prevailed throughout the country for decades should remain the law unless and until Congress decides to amend the

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