Annotate this Case
188 U.S. 321 (1903)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Lottery Case, 188 U.S. 321 (1903)
Argued December 15-16, 1802
Decided February 23, 1903
188 U.S. 321
Lottery tickets are subjects of traffic among those who choose to buy and sell them, and their carriage by independent carriers from one state to another is therefore interstate commerce which Congress may prohibit under its power to regulate commerce among the several states.
Legislation under that power may sometimes and properly assume the form, or have the effect, of prohibition.
Legislation prohibiting the carriage of such tickets is not inconsistent with any limitation or restriction imposed upon the exercise of the powers granted to Congress.
The general question arising upon this appeal involves the constitutionality of the first section of the Act of Congress of March 2, 1895, c. 191, entitled
"An Act for the Suppression of Lottery Traffic through National and Interstate Commerce and the Postal Service, Subject to the Jurisdiction and Laws of the United States."
28 Stat. 963.
The appeal was from an order of the circuit court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois dismissing a writ of habeas corpus sued out by the appellant Champion, who in his application complained that he was restrained of his liberty by the Marshal of the United States in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States.
It appears that the accused was under indictment in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Texas for a conspiracy under section 5440 of the Revised Statues, providing that
"if two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such parties do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, all the parties to such conspiracy shall be liable to a penalty of not less than one thousand dollars and not more than ten thousand dollars, and to imprisonment not more than two years."
He was arrested at Chicago under a warrant based upon a complaint in writing, under oath, charging him with conspiring with others at Dallas, in the Northern District of Texas, to commit the offense denounced in the above act of 1895, and the object of the arrest was to compel his appearance in the federal court in Texas to answer the indictment against him.
The first section of the act 1895, upon which the indictment was based, is as follows:
"§ 1. That any person who shall cause to be brought within the United States from abroad, for the purpose of disposing of the same, or deposited in or carried by the mails of the United States, or carried from one state to another in the United States, any paper, certificate, or instrument purporting to be or represent a ticket, chance, share, or interest in or dependent upon the event of a lottery, so-called gift concert, or similar enterprise, offering prizes dependent upon lot or chance, or shall cause any advertisement of such lottery, so-called gift concert, or similar enterprise, offering prizes dependent upon lot or chance, to be brought into the United States, or deposited in or carried by the mails of the United States, or transferred from one state to another in the same, shall be punishable in [for] the first offense by imprisonment for not more than two years, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or both, and in the second and after offenses by such imprisonment only."
28 Stat. 963.
The indictment charged, in its first count, that, on or about the first day of February, A.D. 1899, in Dallas County, Texas,
"C. F. Champion, alias W. W. Ogden, W. F. Champion, and
Charles B. Park did then and there unlawfully, knowingly, and feloniously conspire together to commit an offense against the United States, to-wit, for the purpose of disposing of the same, to cause to be carried from one state to another in the United States, to-wit, from Dallas, in the State of Texas, to Fresno, in the State of California, certain papers, certificates, and instruments purporting to be and representing tickets, as they then and there well knew, chances, shares, and interests in and dependent upon the event of a lottery, offering prizes dependent upon lot and chance, that is to say, caused to be carried, as aforesaid, for the purpose of disposing of the same, papers, certificates, or instruments purporting to be tickets to represent the chances, shares, and interests in the prizes which by lot and chance might be awarded to persons, to these grand jurors unknown, who might purchase said papers, certificates, and instruments representing and purporting to be tickets, as aforesaid, with the numbers thereon shown and indicated and printed, which by lot and chance should, on a certain day, draw a prize or prizes at the purported lottery or chance company, to-wit at the purported monthly drawing of the so-called Pan-American Lottery Company, which purported to draw monthly at Asuncion, Paraguay, which said Pan-American Lottery Company purported to be an enterprise offering prizes dependent upon lot and chance, the specific method of such drawing being unknown to the grand jurors, but which said papers, certificates, and instruments purporting to be and representing tickets upon their face purporting to be entitled to participation in the drawing for a certain capital prize amounting to the sum of thirty-two thousand dollars, and which said drawings for said capital prize, or the part or parts thereof allotted or to be allotted in conformity with the scheme of lot and chance, were to take place monthly, the manner and form of which is to the grand jurors unknown, but that said drawing and lot and chance by which said prize or prizes were to be drawn was purported to be under the supervision and direction of Enrigue Montes de Leon, manager, and Bernardo Lopez, intervener, and which said papers, certificates, and instruments purporting to be tickets of the said Pan-American Lottery Company were so divided as
to be called whole, half, quarter, and eighth tickets, the whole tickets to be sold for the sum of two dollars, the half tickets for the sum of one dollar, the quarter tickets for the sum of fifty cents and the eighth tickets for the sum of twenty-five cents."
The indictment further charged that,
"in pursuance to said conspiracy, and to effect the object thereof, to-wit, for the purpose of causing to be carried from one state to another in the United States, to-wit from the State of Texas to the State of California aforesaid, for the purpose of disposing of the same, papers, certificates, and instruments purporting to be and representing tickets, chances, and shares and interests in and dependent upon lot and chance, as aforesaid, as they then and there well knew, said W. F. Champion and Charles B. Park did then and there, to-wit, on or about the day last aforesaid, in the year 1899, in the county aforesaid, in the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas aforesaid, unlawfully, knowingly, and feloniously, for the purpose of being carried from one state to another in the United States, to-wit, from Dallas, in the State of Texas, to Fresno, in the State of California, for the purpose of disposing of the same, deposit and cause to be deposited and shipped and carried with and by the Wells-Fargo Express Company, a corporation engaged in carrying freight and packages from station to station along and over lines of railway, and from Dallas, Texas, to Fresno, California, for hire, one certain box or package containing, among other things, two whole tickets or papers or certificates of said purported Pan-American Lottery Company, one of which said whole tickets is hereto annexed by the grand jury to this indictment and made a part hereof."
It thus appears that the carrying in this case was by an incorporated express company, engaged in transporting freight and packages from one state to another.
The commissioner who issued the warrant of arrest, having found that there was probable cause to believe that Champion was guilty of the offense charged, ordered that he give bond for his appearance for trial in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Texas, or in default thereof, to be committed to jail. Having declined to give the required bond, the accused was taken into custody. Rev.Stat. § 1014.
Thereupon he sued out the present writ of habeas corpus upon the theory that the act of 1895, under which it was proposed to try him, was void under the Constitution of the United States.