Advanced Criminal Law: Federal Criminal Jurisdiction
Chapter 3: Scope of Federal Criminal Laws
A. Bases for federal criminal jurisdiction: direct federal interests +
1. Transportation in Interstate commerce—Congress may enact legislation which:
a. Regulates channels of use
b. Regulates the instrumentalities of interstate commerce
c. Champion v. Ames: because lottery tickets were transported between states the feds can regulate.
d. Hoke v. U.S.: Transportation of prostitutes across state lines uses the channels of commerce and is thus a federal crime.
[**We know that if there is an express statement in a statute that articulates that there must be transportation across state lines to be sanctioned, it will generally be upheld because of solid constitutional basis. Jurisdiction today has also been expanded not only to transportation of corporeal objects, but also to the crossing of state boundaries by communications and electronic signals.] 2. Affecting Commerce (does not need to be economic!)
a. Inclusion of the jurisdictional element in the definition of a crime—The Hobbs Act
i. Perez v. U.S.: federal statute sanctions predatory lending; this is an implied case as statute did not explicitly mention a required effect on commerce, however this extortion would affect commerce on a national level; court relies here on the “class of activities” approach.
ii. Pre-Lopez: commerce was given a very expansive interpretation; also “depletion of assets theory” was emphasized in many cases
b. Jurisdiction based on effect of commerce without including the jurisdictional element in the definition of the offense: The Class of Activities Approach
i. Wickard v. Filburn (1942): consumption of home-grown wheat is deemed to affect the national wheat market if undertaken on a large scale, not just one instance. Court held that because Congress could touch the class of activities (namely the national wheat market) that it had the authority to legislate home consumption.
U.S. v. Lopez (1995)
Facts: 12th grader charged under the Gun-Free School Act of 1990
Holding: SCT did not allow such an expansive interpretation; articulated test below.
Whether there is an economic link to commerce: the act of bringing a gun on school property—it was not a commodity-based transaction.
Whether there is a jurisdictional element present
Whether or not there are legislative findings on the matter
c. Post-Lopez Developments
U.S. v. Morrison (2000)
Facts: D charged under the VAWA for a civil remedy for campus rape
Holding: The link between crime and commerce must be demonstrable
§ Whether the regulated activity is commercial or economic in nature (for our purposes – no distincti
a. Firearms Offenses
U.S. v. Stewart (2003)
Facts: Stewart made a home-made machine gun out of parts in violation of the FFA
Court skipped the “transportation” analysis and used the Morrison Test here:
No substantial effect on interstate commerce, thus FFA provision is unconstitutional. Conviction reversed.
U.S. v. Haney (2001)
Facts: Possession of two machineguns as part of his ‘militia’ participation
Holding: federal criminal gun-control law does not violate the 2nd Amendment unless it impairs the state’s ability to maintain a well-regulated militia.
HANEY Test for militias:
§ Demonstrate person’s membership in state militia
§ The militia and his participation therein, is well-regulated by the state
§ Demonstrate that machineguns are actually used by militia itself
§ Demonstrate that his possession of machinegun is reasonably related to his service