Russell v. United States,
471 U.S. 858 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Russell v. United States, 471 U.S. 858 (1985)

Russell v. United States

No. 84-435

Argued April 24, 1985

Decided June 3, 1985

471 U.S. 858


Title 18 U.S.C. § 844(i) makes it a crime to maliciously damage or destroy, or attempt to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, "any building . . . used . . . in any activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce." Petitioner, who was earning rental income from a two-unit apartment building and treated it as business property for tax purposes, was convicted for violating § 844(i) after he unsuccessfully attempted to set fire to the building, and the conviction was affirmed on appeal. Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals rejected his contention that the building was not commercial or business property, and therefore was not capable of being the subject of an offense under § 844(i).

Held: Section 844(i) applies to petitioner's apartment building. The language of the statute expresses an intent by Congress to exercise its full power under the Commerce Clause, and the legislative history indicates that Congress at least intended to protect all "business property." The rental of real estate is unquestionably an activity that affects commerce for purposes of the statute, and the congressional power to regulate the class of activities that constitute the rental market for real estate includes the power to regulate individual activity within that class, such as the local rental of an apartment unit. Pp. 471 U. S. 859-862.

738 F.2d 825, affirmed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

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