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Taylor v. United States

Justia Summary

Taylor and other gang members twice broke into homes of marijuana dealers, demanded drugs and money, found neither, and left relatively empty handed. At Taylor’s retrial on Hobbs Act charges of affecting commerce or attempting to do so through robbery, the court excluded Taylor’s evidence that he targeted dealers selling only locally-grown marijuana. The Fourth Circuit and Supreme Court affirmed his conviction. The Hobbs Act's commerce element is satisfied by showing that the defendant robbed or attempted to rob a drug dealer of drugs or drug proceeds. The Act’s language is unmistakably broad and reaches any obstruction, delay, or other effect on commerce, 18 U.S.C. 1951(a), over which the United States has jurisdiction. Congress may regulate activities that have a substantial aggregate effect on interstate commerce, including “purely local activities that are part of an economic ‘class of activities’ that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce,” if those activities are economic in nature. One such “class of activities” is the production, possession, and distribution of controlled substances. A robber who affects even the intrastate sale of marijuana affects commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction. If the government proves beyond a reasonable doubt that a robber targeted a marijuana dealer’s drugs or illegal proceeds, it has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction was affected.

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