United States v. Fruehauf

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Trailways Bus Terminal

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 365 US 146 (1961)
ARGUED: Jan 11, 1961
DECIDED: Feb 20, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Fruehauf

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 11, 1961 (Part 1) in United States v. Fruehauf

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 11, 1961 (Part 2) in United States v. Fruehauf

Earl Warren:

-- continue.

Louis Nizer:

Thank you, sir.

May it please the Court.

If Congress had intended to proscribe loans as well as gifts in the original act, it could've done so simply by adding the word "lend" and "loan" as it did 12 years later when after congressional investigations in McClellan Committee hearings.

It appeared that there were a number of loan transactions at which time Senator Kennedy set upon the record as it appears.

"This isn't against the law but don't you think we ought to do something about this situation?"

And the amendment resulted thereafter.

But there is one aspect to this problem which -- about which we can be dogmatic, said this Court in the Bell case, it is that when Congress has the will, it can express it particularly in so simple a matter as an evidence that could do in this case.

Indeed, there are two contemporaneous statutes within one year of this one in which Congress was not contempt with the word payment or gift or contribution but did provide lend and loan in the statute.

And most significantly Your Honors, in those cases too, the language appeared, payment of money or other thing of value.

And the Congress did not deem the words "or anything of value" to encompass a loan, and specifically provided the word lend and loan.

The classic tenant of construction with respect to common words even in none criminal statutes and particularly, I stress in the penal statute which is malum prohibitum and requires fair warning to the citizens.

Is that the verbs will be given the limitation of their ordinary market place use, even though linguists and scholars may define larger meanings for them.

So the word “pay” in market place usage, means "to discharge an obligation," it doesn't mean "to initiate one" as you do when you make a loan.

There are many synonyms for the word pay on the dictionaries but no one will find lend as one of those synonyms.

And similarly, the word “deliver”, in its market place usage which is required for fair warning to the average citizen malum prohibitum statute.

The word “deliver” is never associated with loan.

You don't deliver a loan, you make one, as this Court said in the Western Union Lend Group case were the word was ship or commodity, child labor statute.

Ship did not apply to a telegram.

You don't ship a telegram, you send it.

The statute clearly fails to proscribe and wasn't ever intend to proscribe loans at the time that it was enacted.

And therefore, it is not proper we think for the Government to presume that this language maybe ambiguous.

As this Court said in the Bell case when Congress leaves to the judiciary the task of imputing to Congress an undeclared will, the ambiguity should be resolved in favor of lenity, even ambiguity wouldn't aid the Government in this situation.

Nor, may the Government presume that in order to effectuate the beneficent purpose of the statute that it should be broadened to cover other categories which Congress in its wisdom might well have found consistent with its general purpose.

This Court has repeatedly rejected that invitation stating at one case.

It is Congress which defines the penal law.

It is Congress which defines the crime that ordains the punishment, not the Court.

Hugo L. Black:

Mr. Nizer.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Nizer, I beg your pardon.

Hugo L. Black:

I -- I want to ask you a question too about the question the Chief Justice asked.