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Hoke v. United States - 227 U.S. 308, 33 S. Ct. 281 (1913)


Commerce among the States consists of intercourse and traffic between their citizens, and includes the transportation of persons and property. There may be, therefore, a movement of persons as well as of property; that is, a person may move or be moved in interstate commerce.


Defendants Effie Hoke and Basile Economides were charged with violating 36 Stat. 825, the White Slave Act, by enticing women to go from Louisiana to Texas in interstate commerce for the purpose of prostitution. Speficially, the charge against defendant Hoke is that she "did, on the fourteenth day of November, A.D. 1910, in the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana, unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly persuade, induce and entice one Annette Baden, alias Annette Hays, a woman, to go from New Orleans, a city in the State of Louisiana, to Beaumont, a city in the State of Texas, in interstate commerce for the purpose of prostitution," The charge against defendant Economides is that he "did unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly aid and assist the said Effie Hoke to persuade, induce and entice the said Annette Baden . . . to go in interstate commerce . . . for the purpose  of prostitution," with the intent and purpose that the said woman "should engage in the practice of prostitution in the said city of Beaumont, Texas." Defendants' demurrers to the constitutionality of the Act were overruled. After a trial, defendants were convicted and sentenced to two years' imprisonment on each of the counts against them.  The United States Supreme Court reviewed a judgments of conviction under the White Slave Act, the stated purpose of which is "to further regulate interstate and foreign commerce by prohibiting the transportation therein for immoral purposes of women and girls, and for other purposes." 


Did Congress in its exercise of its power to regulate commerce lawfully enact the provisions of the White Slave Act?




The Court affirmed defendants' criminal convictions for transporting women in interstate commerce for the purpose of prostitution. The Court held the Act was a legal exercise of the power of Congress. Commerce among the States was held to consist of a movement of persons as well as of property. If men and women employed interstate transportation as a facility of their wrongs, the court held it could be forbidden to them. Through the Commerce Clause, Congress had power over transportation "among the several States." The Court held that the power was complete in itself. Congress, as an incident to it, could adopt not only means necessary but convenient to its exercise, and the means could have the quality of police regulations. The Act was not unconstitutional simply because Congress exercised its authority under the Commerce Clause in a manner that displaced the States' exercise of their police powers.

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