Friday, April 22, 2005

Another Hobbs Act Decision Rejects Commerce Clause Challenge

The Eleventh Circuit reiterated its position that the broad commerce element for a Hobbs Act violation only requires a minimal effect on interstate commerce and not a "substantial" effect in United States v. Verbitskaya (here).  The court rejected a claim that the Supreme Court's federalism decisions in Lopez and Morrison changed the broad interpretation of the Hobbs Act, in much the same way that the Third Circuit rejected that argument in United States v. Urban (see earlier post here).  As the Eleventh Circuit noted rather pithily: "Extortion of money obtained in interstate commerce affects interstate commerce."  It's pretty hard to earn money any other way. While the cases involve different types of extortion (use of force in Verbitskaya, "under color of official right" in Urban), the outcome remains the same regarding the broad scope of the commerce element. (ph)

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