280 U.S. 396 (1930), 66, United states v. Wurzbach

Docket Nº:No. 66
Citation:280 U.S. 396, 50 S.Ct. 167, 74 L.Ed. 508
Party Name:United states v. Wurzbach
Case Date:February 24, 1930
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 396

280 U.S. 396 (1930)

50 S.Ct. 167, 74 L.Ed. 508

United states



No. 66

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 24, 1930

Argued January 20, 1930




1. A representative in Congress who receives or is concerned in receiving money from officers and employees of the United States for the political purpose of promoting his nomination at a party primary, as a candidate for reelection, is guilty of the offense defined by § 312 of the federal Corrupt Practices Act. U.S.C. Title 18, § 208. P. 398.

2. Congress may provide that officers and employees of the United States neither shall exercise nor be subjected to pressure for money for political purposes, upon or by others of their kind. while they retain their office or employment. Id.

3. Neither the Constitution nor the nature of the abuse to be checked requires that the words of the Act be confined to political purposes within the control of the United States. P. 399.

Page 397

4. A representative in Congress, being of a class specifically named in the statute, has no standing to object to it as being too uncertain in defining other classes to which it applies. P. 399.

5. The term "political purpose" is not so vague as to render the statute invalid. Id.

6. The objection that the statute leaves uncertain which of several sections imposes the penalty, and therefore uncertain what the punishment is, can be raised when a punishment is to be applied, and need not be answered upon an appeal from a judgment quashing the indictment. Id.

31 F.2d 774 reversed.

Appeal from a judgment of the district court quashing an indictment.

HOLMES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

The respondent was indicted under the federal Corrupt Practices Act, 1925, Act of February 28, 1925, c. 368, § 312, 43 Stat. 1053, 1073; U.S.Code, Title 18, § 208, on charges that, being a representative in Congress, he received and was concerned in receiving specified sums of money from named officers and employees of the United States for the political purpose of promoting his nomination as Republican candidate for representative at certain Republican primaries. Upon motion of the defendant, the district court quashed the indictment on the ground that the statute should not be construed to include the political purpose alleged, and, construed to include

Page 398

it, probably would be unconstitutional. The United States appealed.

The section of the statute is as follows:

It is unlawful for any Senator or Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner, to, Congress, or any candidate...

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