Rewis v. United States

PETITIONER: Rewis
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District

DOCKET NO.: 5342
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 401 US 808 (1971)
ARGUED: Jan 19, 1971
DECIDED: Apr 05, 1971

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Rewis v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 19, 1971 in Rewis v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments next in Number 5342, Wintfored Rewis and Williams against the United States.

Albert J. Datz:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Datz.

Albert J. Datz:

The issue here is whether or not travel in Interstate Commerce is necessary for guilt, whether or not the travel in Interstate Commerce necessary for guilt under 18 United States Code 1952, known as Travel Act, is supplied by the fact that the gambling players or customers cross a state line.

The petitioners here, James Wintfored Rewis.

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Datz.

Albert J. Datz:

Yes sir.

Potter Stewart:

Your -- you stated the issue and as you understand it and submitted to the Court today, is it purely a question of a statutory construction or are there any constitutional questions?

Albert J. Datz:

I believe it’s purely statutory construction.

Potter Stewart:

You don’t question the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause --

Albert J. Datz:

Not in this --

Potter Stewart:

-- to enact a statute that could’ve made the travel by the gamblers sufficient to make your clients guilty of a federal criminal offense?

Albert J. Datz:

This is not involved here, Your Honor.

I’m aware of the fact that Congress had just recently passed such a statute in anticipation --

Potter Stewart:

Well, in other words, if we disagree with you as to the statutory construction, it could be involved.

We could say, yes, the statute as we read it, does mean that the travel by the players from Georgia into Florida is sufficient to make your clients guilty of a defense under the statutes as it’s written, then there it becomes the question, well, could Congress have the constitutional power under Commerce Clause to do so.

You don’t go though that far?

Albert J. Datz:

We don’t go that far --

Potter Stewart:

Because you rest your argument on the words of the statute, is that correct?

Albert J. Datz:

Yes, Your Honor.

Potter Stewart:

And my posit --

Albert J. Datz:

Well, tangentially that in the recently passed act, Congress did declare that gambling was a matter of interstate commerce per se, that it affected Interstate Commerce and attempted to regulate it.

I submit and this is not in the brief, nobody's brief had raise it, but that might even be additional factors to consider a comparison with that statute and the Travel Act is what Congress could have done, if it had wanted to.

Potter Stewart:

Now you assume it could have.

In any event your argument is based exclusively on the language of the statute and its legislative history.

Albert J. Datz:

Yes, Your Honor.

Potter Stewart:

It's purely a statutory argument?

Albert J. Datz:

Yes Your Honor.

Potter Stewart:

Alright, thank you.

Albert J. Datz:

The petitioner, James Rewis and Mary Williams were convicted in the Middle District of Florida of the crime involved in the violation of 18 United States Code 1952, known as the Travel Act, that is of traveling and causing travel in Interstate Commerce with and intent to promote, manage, establish, carry on and to facilitate the promotion and management, establishment and carrying on of a gambling activity.