The United States Congress and Judicial Opinion

The United States Congress and Judicial Opinion The U.S Congress, after conducting hearings on the possible connection between organized crime and prostitution, passes the Moral Streets Act, which imposes federal sanctions upon those who traffic in illicit sexual activities(such as pimping and prostitution) as defined by the statute itself.

The United States Congress and Judicial Opinion
The United States Congress and Judicial Opinion

Leslee Lewis, a prostitute with ties to federal organized crime figures, is arrested under the color of a New Jersey State morals law that criminalizes prostitution. These charges are dropped after federal agents, seeking information on the crime figures, charge Lewis with violating the Moral Streets Act. Lewis refuses to divulge any information and is tried and convicted in federal district court of violating the federal statute.

Lewis appeals the conviction in a federal circuit court of appeals, claiming that Congress has gone beyond its enumerated powers in passing the Moral Streets Act and has unconstitutionally supervened in an area of reserved state powers–i.e., the area of public health safety and morals. The Federal attorney argues that the Act has been passed pursuant to Congress’s power under Article I, Section 8, Subsection 3 “to regulate commerce among the states.” The federal attorney makes two claims:1) that prostitution is a form of commercial transaction that,  when linked to organized crime substantially affects interstate commerce, and 2) that accredited studies have shown that a significant national increase in commercial sexual transactions has a detrimental impact on other, socially legitimate, forms of commerce.

The district court reverses Lewis’s conviction and the U.S. government appeals to the U.S. supreme court. In light of relevant provisions of the constitution and case law, decide the case of U.S. v. Lewis.

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