February 28, 2006
Restricting the Hobbs Act
The Supreme Court today issued a decision in the case of SCHEIDLER et al. v. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN, INC., et al. (see here), a case that has made its way to the Court on more than one occasion. Although the case is clearly not a white collar matter as it involves the physical violence aspects of the Hobbs Act, the Court's decision may lend a clue as to how the Court feels about a broad interpretation of this statute. In Scheidler the Court stated, "[w]e hold that physical violence unrelated to robbery or extortion falls outside the scope of the Hobbs Act." The Court noted that:
"Congress did not intend to create a freestanding physical violence offense in the Hobbs Act. It did intend to forbid acts or threats of physical violence in furtherance of a plan or purpose to engage in what the statute refers to as robbery or extortion (and related attempts or conspiracies). "
Obviously, it is unknown whether this posture would carry over to white collar cases premised on other portions of the Hobbs Act, or for that matter RICO (the Hobbs Act is a RICO predicate).
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