Taylor v. U.S.

Posted: March 21, 2016 by beguide in case summaries, Commerce Clause, Criminal Procedure, Federalism, Punishment, Uncategorized

WHAT HAPPENED:  Defendant was arrested and convicted pursuant to the Hobbs Act, which is a federal statute that gives federal penalties to persons who engage in robbery or extortion that affect interstate commerce.  Defendant’s actions which lead to this arrest was robbing local drug dealers for nominal amounts of money (relatively speaking)

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  The Hobbs Act represents an expansion of Federal Jurisdiction into crime that is more commonly classified at the State level.  At the State level, this would likely just be common-law robbery, which is no easy-breezy crime, but still does not pack the same sentencing power and punch as the Hobbs Act.  The question here is how much does the Government need to prove that this crime affected interstate commerce.  In this case, the Government provided a nominal amount of evidence connecting this to interstate of commerce and the Court has to determine if that evidence warrants federal charges here.Previous cases have held that the drug trade is inherently within interstate commerce, but that individual holding has not been applied in situations like this.

WHAT IS THE RULING:  This case is not yet decided.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  This case speaks directly to the expansion of the federal government and how our society chooses to punish drug crimes.  On one level, increased federal expansion of drug crimes could hypothetically allow greater change at the federal level, but there’s no saying that change could be for the better.  More likely than not, a win for the government in this case will allow federal courts to take greater action over drug crimes.

ROOT FOR TAYLOR IF:  You wish to rebel against your omnipresent federal government overlords.  Also, you are a fan or author of THE WIRE fan-fiction.

ROOT FOR U.S. IF:  The recent passing of Nancy Regan has inspired you to double down on the War on Drugs.

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