Drew Caminetti v. United States No 139 Maury Diggs v. United States No 163 Hays v. United States No 464 464

Decision Date15 January 1917
Docket Number163,Nos. 139,s. 139
Citation37 S.Ct. 192,242 U.S. 470,61 L.Ed. 442
PartiesF. DREW CAMINETTI, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES. NO 139. MAURY I. DIGGS, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES. NO 163. L. T. HAYS, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES. NO 464. , and 464
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

[Syllabus from pages 470-472 intentionally omitted] Messrs. Joseph W. Bailey, Marshall B. Woodworth, and Robert T. Devlin for petitioners in Nos. 139 and 163.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 472-480 intentionally omitted]

Page 480

Mr. Harry O. Glasser for petitioner in No. 464.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 480-482 intentionally omitted]

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Assistant Attorney General Wallace for the United States.

Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion of the court:

These three cases were argued together, and may be disposed of in a single opinion. In each of the cases there was a conviction and sentence for violation of the so-called White Slave Traffic Act of June 25, 1910 (36 Stat. at L. 825, chap. 395, Comp. Stat. 1913, § 8813), the judgments were affirmed by the circuit courts of appeals, and writs of certiorari bring the cases here.

In the Caminetti Case, the petitioner was indicted in the United States district court for the northern district of California, upon the 6th day of May, 1913, for alleged violations of the act. The indictment was in four counts, the first of which charged him with transporting and causing to be transported, and aiding and assisting in

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obtaining transportation for a certain woman from Sacramento, California, to Reno, Nevada, in interstate commerce, for the purpose of debauchery, and for an immoral purpose, to wit, that the aforesaid woman should be and become his mistress and concubine. A verdict of not guilty was returned as to the other three counts of this indictment. As to the first count, defendant was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for eighteen months and to pay a fine of $1,500. Upon writ of error to the United States circuit court of appeals for the ninth circuit, that judgment was affirmed. 136 C. C. A. 147, 220 Fed. 545.

Diggs was indicted at the same time as was Caminetti, upon six counts, with only four of which are we concerned, inasmuch as there was no verdict upon the last two. The first count charged the defendant with transporting and causing to be transported, and aiding and assisting in obtaining transportation for, a certain woman from Sacramento, California, to Reno, Nevada, for the purpose of debauchery, and for an immoral purpose, to wit, that the aforesaid woman should be and become his concubine and mistress. The second count charged him with a like offense as to another woman (the companion of Caminetti) in transportation, etc., from Sacramento to Reno, that she might become the mistress and concubine of Caminetti. The third count charged him (Diggs) with procuring a ticket for the first-mentioned woman from Sacramento to Reno in interstate commerce, with the intent that she should become his concubine and mistress. The fourth count made a like charge as to the girl companion of Caminetti. Upon trial and verdict of guilty on these four counts, he was sentenced to imprisonment for two years and to pay a fine of $2,000. As in the Caminetti case, that judgment was affirmed by the circuit court of appeals. 136 C. C. A. 147, 220 Fed. 545.

In the Hays Case, upon June 26th, 1914, an indictment

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was returned in the United States district court for the western district of Oklahoma against Hays and another, charging violations of the act. The first count charged the said defendants with having, on March 17th, 1914, persuaded, induced, enticed, and coerced a certain woman, unmarried and under the age of eighteen years, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to the city of Wichita, Kansas, in interstate commerce and travel, for the purpose and with intent then and there to induce and coerce the said woman, and intending that she should be induced and coerced to engage in prostitution, debauchery, and other immoral practices, and did then and there, in furtherance of such purposes, procure and furnish a railway ticket entitling her to passage over the line of railway, to wit, the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway, and did then and there and thereby, knowingly entice and cause the said woman to go and to be carried and transported as a passenger in interstate commerce upon said line of railway. The second count charged that on the same date the defendants persuaded, induced, enticed, and coerced the same woman to be transported from Oklahoma City to Wichita, Kansas, with the purpose and intent to induce and coerce her to engage in prostitution, debauchery, and other immoral practices at and within the state of Kansas, and that they enticed her and caused her to go and be carried and transported as a passenger in interstate commerce from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Wichita, Kansas, upon a line and route of a common carrier, to wit: The Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway. Defendants were found guilty by a jury upon both counts, and Hays was sentenced to imprisonment for eighteen months. Upon writ of error to the circuit court of appeals for the eighth circuit, judgment was affirmed (145 C. C. A. 294, 231 Fed. 106).

It is contended that the act of Congress is intended to reach only 'commercialized vice,' or the traffic in women

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for gain, and that the conduct for which the several petitioners were indicted and convicted, however reprehensible in morals, is not within the purview of the statute when properly construed in the light of its history and the purposes intended to be accomplished by its enactment. In none of the cases was it charged or proved that the transportation was for gain or for the purpose of furnishing women for prostitution for hire, and it is insisted that, such being the case, the acts charged and proved, upon which conviction was had, do not come within the statute.

It is elementary that the meaning of a statute must, in the first instance, be sought in the language in which the act is framed, and if that is plain, and if the law is within the constitutional authority of the lawmaking body which passed it, the sole function of the courts is to enforce it according to its terms. Lake County v. Rollins, 130 U. S. 662, 670, 671, 32 L. ed. 1060, 1063, 1064, 9 Sup. Ct. Rep. 651; Bate Refrigerating Co. v. Sulzberger, 157 U. S. 1, 33, 39 L. ed. 601, 610, 15 Sup. Ct. Rep. 508; United States v. Lexington Mill & Elevator Co. 232 U. S. 399, 409, 58 L. ed. 658, 661, L.R.A.1915B, 774, 34 Sup. Ct. Rep. 337; United States v. First Nat. Bank, 234 U. S. 245, 258, 58 L. ed. 1298, 1303, 34 Sup. Ct. Rep. 846.

Where the language is plain and admits of no more than one meaning, the duty of interpretation does not arise, and the rules which are to aid doubtful meanings need no discussion. Hamilton v. Rathbone, 175 U. S. 414, 421, 44 L. ed. 219, 222, 20 Sup. Ct. Rep. 155. There is no ambiguity in the terms of this act. It is specifically made an offense to knowingly transport or cause to be transported, etc., in interstate commerce, any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for 'any other immoral purpose,' or with the intent and purpose to induce any such woman or girl to become a prostitute or to give herself up to debauchery, or to engage in any other immoral practice.

Statutory words are uniformly presumed, unless the contrary appears, to be used in their ordinary and usual sense, and with the meaning commonly attributed to

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them. To cause a woman or girl to be transported for the purposes of debauchery, and for an immoral purpose, to wit, becoming a concubine or mistress, for which Caminetti and Diggs were convicted; or to transport an unmarried woman, under eighteen years of age, with the intent to induce her to engage in prostitution, debauchery, and other immoral practices, for which Hays was convicted, would seem by the very statement of the facts to embrace transportation for purposes denounced by the act, and therefore fairly within its meaning.

While such immoral purpose would be more culpable in morals and attributed to baser motives if accompanied with the expectation of pecuniary gain, such considerations do not prevent the lesser offense against morals of furnishing transportation in order that a woman may be debauched, or become a mistress or a concubine, from being the execution of purposes within the meaning of this law. To say the contrary would shock the common understanding of what constitutes an immoral purpose when those terms are applied, as here, to sexual relations.

In United States v. Bitty, 208 U. S. 393, 52 L. ed. 543, 28 Sup. Ct. Rep. 396, it was held that the act of Congress against the importation of alien women and girls for the purpose of prostitution 'and any other immoral purpose' included the importation of an alien woman to live in concubinage with the person importing her. In that case this court said:

'All will admit that full effect must be given to the intention of Congress as gathered from the words of the statute. There can be no doubt as to what class was aimed at by the clause forbidding the importation of alien women for purposes of 'prostitution.' It refers to women who, for hire or without hire, offer their bodies to indiscriminate intercourse with men. The lives and example of such persons are in hostility to 'the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one

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man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.' Murphy v. Ramsey, 114 U. S. 15, 45, 29 L. ed. 47, 57, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 747. . . . Now the addition in the last statute of the words, 'or for any other immoral purpose,' after the word 'prostitution,' must have been...

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