Alexander v. United States Case Brief

Facts of the Case

“After a full criminal trial, Ferris J. Alexander, Sr., the owner of numerous businesses dealing in sexually explicit materials, was convicted of,, violating federal obscenity laws and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The obscenity convictions, based on a finding that seven items sold at several stores were obscene, were the predicates for his RICO convictions. In addition to imposing a prison term and fine, the District Court ordered Alexander, as punishment for the RICO violations, to forfeit his businesses and almost $9 million acquired through racketeering activity. In affirming the forfeiture order, the Court of Appeals rejected Alexander’s arguments that RICO’s forfeiture provisions constitute a prior restraint on speech and are overbroad. The court also held that the forfeiture did not violate the, concluding that proportionality review is not required of any sentence less than life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. It did not consider whether the forfeiture was disproportionate or “excessive.””


“(1) Did the Circuit Court use the proper standard of evidence for establishing that an employer’s asserted nondiscriminatory reason for a hiring decision is pretextual? (2) Can an employer’s use of the word “boy” to refer to an employee ever be evidence of racial animus?”


“No and undecided. Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for a 5-4 majority that the application of RICO in Alexander’s case was neither a ‘prior restraint’ on speech, nor a criminalization of speech typically protected under the Constitution. His sentence established no conditions on his behavior after its completion