Callanan v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Circuit Court of Montgomery County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 364 US 587 (1961)
ARGUED: Nov 15, 1960 / Nov 16, 1960
DECIDED: Jan 09, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Callanan v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 15, 1960 in Callanan v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 16, 1960 in Callanan v. United States

Earl Warren:

Lawrence Callanan, Petitioner, versus the United States.

Mr. Shenker, you may continue your argument.

Morris A. Shenker:

Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors.

At the conclusion yesterday, I called the Court's attention to the fact that the reviser of the 1948 Code, when that was -- and it's embodied in H.R. Bill 3190 and was reported to Judiciary Committee which -- which accompanied that bill and that at that time and the -- and that so far as conspiracies are concerned and if I may just read that long paragraph wherein the report states that a number of special conspiracy provisions relating to specific offenses which were contained in various sections incorporated in this title were omitted, because adequately covered by this section.

A few exceptions were made.

One, where conspiracy would constitute the only offense and two or where the punishment provided in this action would not be commensurate with the gravity of the offense.

Special conspiracy provisions were retained in sections and then it gives a number of sections and then it's the -- of this title and then it says, conspiracy provisions were added to certain sections.

Now, in each instance, it omits any reference to it that conspiracy to this section that is to -- to 1951.

We -- we state that the mere -- that even that fact, there's an indication that there was no intent at any time by the Congressional Committee or by Congress in passing that law to consider the conspiracy provision of this Act, as relayed into punishment any different than the Act itself.

And that all it considered was that it considered the entire Act that racketeering section was considered all and -- all as a force of one act.

And that the only reason that the various methods of violating the law were -- were prescribed was in -- in order to make sure that if a violation occurs, that a person could be considered as being guilty of a violation of law and could be punished.

John M. Harlan II:

Was that quoted in your brief?

Morris A. Shenker:

Yes, sir.

John M. Harlan II:

What page is it?

Morris A. Shenker:

The -- that's at page 41 in the middle of the -- bottom of that page.

Now it is -- of course, on situations of this nature, not considering the question even whether you could -- you can or it cannot have consecutive punishments for a conspiracy, as well as for the violation of the -- for a substantive violation.

Of course, the legislative history is -- is very pertinent because after all that is the -- the part that -- that was -- would -- would govern when it becomes a question of intent of Congress and the discussion, all of the discussions in the legislative history, I'm again referring to it, relates only to this question of 20 years.

I should like to, if I may, call attention to the -- some of the discussion that was had in the -- in the petitioner's appendix and referring to -- to page 12 on top of the page which is from the 1889 Congressional Record, where -- where Mr. Delaney has said, the fact of the matter is that this committee report was not unanimous.

Also in the committee it was indicated by those in favor of this legislation, that a legislation is too drastic that the $10,000 fine and 20 years in jail is too drastic.

They think a modified -- they think a modified bill might be more in consonance with present day thinking.

And then Mr. Fish continued on the same page and states, "I want to refer likewise to some of the excessive penalties.

The penalties in this bill in my opinion were too severe, 20 years, and $10,000 fine."

When we reach this section of the bill, there should be very careful consideration given to reducing both the extent of the imprisonment and the fines.

A reading -- and referring again to Congressman Celler and also on the same page on the -- on the appendix, at the bottom of page 12, Mr. Celler says, "Let me call your attention to one or two items in the bill which meet with my disfavor.

For example, the bill provides for a punishment of 20 years and/or a fine of $10,000."

Then it goes on to say, "Examine the antitrust statutes and you will find that malefactors under those statutes do not have to face a 20-year sentence."

Violations of the antitrust laws are equally detrimental to the body politic and or as much as crime as extortion or robbery as contemplated by the instant bill.

Now I'm citing this not only to show there was only 20 years but it also shows that in each instance, everyone, everyone of the Congressmen and the Committee rules and the discussion of the floors in each instance, they were treating this as a package.

They were treating this as -- as something that is -- that is to reach out to get group activity, that there wasn't a law that was passed for an individual, that it was -- rather it was a law that was passed to reach out to racketeering, to group activity rather than into individuals.

Then Congressman Celler goes on, "If the extortion or robbery is of such magnitude that it ought to be prosecuted as a felony instead of a misdemeanor, then the prosecution should be under state law, it goes on to say.