Boyle v. United States, 552

Decision Date09 March 1931
Docket NumberNo. 552,552
Citation283 U.S. 25,51 S.Ct. 340,75 L.Ed. 816
PartiesMcBOYLE v. UNITED STATES
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Mr. Harry F. Brown, of Guthrie, Okl., for petitioner.

The Attorney General and Mr. Claude R. Branch, of Providence, R. I., for the United States.

Mr. Justice HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioner was convicted of transporting from Ottawa, Illinois, to Guymon, Oklahoma, an airplane that he knew to have been stolen, and was sentenced to serve three years' imprisonment and to pay a fine of $2,000. The judgment was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. 43 F.(2d) 273. A writ of certiorari was granted by this Court on the question whether the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act applies to aircraft. Act of October 29, 1919, c. 89, 41 Stat. 324, U. S. Code, title 18, § 408 (18 USCA § 408). That Act provides: 'Sec. 2. That when used in this Act: (a) The term 'motor vehicle' shall include an automobile, automobile truck, automobile wagon, motor cycle, or any other self-propelled vehicle not designed for running on rails. * * * Sec. 3. That whoever shall transport or cause to be transported in interstate or foreign commerce a motor vehicle, knowing the same to have been stolen, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by imprisonment of not more than five years, or both.'

Section 2 defines the motor vehicles of which the transportation in interstate commerce is punished in Section 3. The question is the meaning of the word 'vehicle' in the phrase 'any other self-propelled vehicle not designed for running on rails.' No doubt etymologically it is possible to use the word to signify a conveyance working on land, water or air, and sometimes legislation extends the use in that direction, e. g., land and air, water being separately provided for, in the Tariff Act, September 21, 1922, c. 356, § 401(b), 42 Stat. 858, 948 (19 USCA § 231(b). But in everyday speech 'vehicle' calls up the picture of a thing moving on land. Thus in Rev. St. § 4 (1 USCA § 4) intended, the Government suggests, rather to enlarge than to restrict the definition, vehicle includes every contrivance capable of being used 'as a means of transportation on land.' And this is repeated, expressly excluding aircraft, in the Tariff Act, June 17, 1930, c. 497, § 401(b), 46 Stat. 590, 708 (19 USCA § 1401). So here, the phrase under discussion calls up the popular picture. For after including automobile truck, automobile wagon and motor cycle, the words 'any other self-propelled vehicle not designed for running on rails' still indicate that a...

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