United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois
July 10, 1953
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hoffman, District Judge.
The defendant has moved to dismiss the indictment against him
in this case, which is predicated on an alleged violation of
Section 215, Title 18 United States Code. The grounds asserted by
the defendant in support of his motion are that the statute upon
which his indictment is based is unconstitutional as being
violative of the Fifth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution
of the United States; and, further, that the offense charged in
the indictment is not one which is cognizable within the
provisions of the said statute.
The statute upon which the indictment is based reads as
"Whoever solicits or receives, * * * for personal
emolument, any money or thing of value, in
consideration of the promise of support or use of
influence in obtaining for any person any appointive
office or place under the United States, shall be
fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more
than one year, or both. * * *"
It is true that criminal statutes are to be strictly construed
but not so strictly as to limit their evident intent. U.S. v.
Hartwell, 6 Wall. 385, 73 U.S. 385, 18 L.Ed. 830; Ash Sheep Co.
v. U.S., 252 U.S. 159
, 40 S.Ct. 241, 64 L. Ed. 507. In the case
of U.S. v. Hood, 343 U.S. 148
, at page 151, 72 S.Ct. 568, at page
570, 96 L.Ed. 846, which was one involving this statute, the
"* * * But this does not mean that such legislation
`must be construed by some artificial and
conventional rule'. * * * We should not read such
laws so as to put in what is not readily found there.
But equally we should not read out what as a matter
of ordinary English speech is in."
From a reading of the defendant's brief, he would have the
Court construe the Act which would so limit its scope as to
provide only for the original induction of persons into the
Federal service, by improper influence, and not to the promotion
of persons already in the employ of the Government. Congress, it
appears from the wording of this statute, was attempting to
outlaw all improper tampering with Government employment. The
vicious effect would be the same whether the person involved was
already in the service or was being brought in.
Black's Law Dictionary, at page 128, defines the word "appoint"
as meaning "to designate, ordain, prescribe, nominate." Certainly
the word "appointive" is comprehensive enough to encompass
"promotion". The position involved in this indictment was that of
Foreman in the United States Post Office at Chicago, Illinois.
When a choice of one of three candidates to the position of
foreman is made, it is just as necessary for Government
efficiency that absolute honesty prevail in that choice as when
an original selection is made from a wider field of applicants.
There is still the element
of selectivity which makes the choice a designation or an
It is clear from the wording of the Act that Congress intended
that it be comprehensive in scope. An examination of the language
so indicates. For example, the words "whoever" solicits; "any
money or thing of value"; to use influence in obtaining for
"any person"; "any appointive" position, are used.
The defendant argues that Congress is without power to
legislate on the subject involved because the statute makes penal
the acts of one outside of the Government service, which is a
state police matter. In the opinion of the Court, it is of prime
importance to the United States Government that its personnel be
entirely free of improper influences, and there is no doubt that
this statute is clearly within the legislative powers of
An order will be entered denying the motion of the defendant to
dismiss the indictment.
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