Lottery Case

188 U.S. 321



The carriage of lottery tickets from one state to another by an express company engaged in carrying freight and packages from state to state is interstate commerce, which Congress, under its power to regulate, may prohibit by making it an offense against the United States to cause such tickets so to be carried.


Appellant challenged the constitutionality of the Federal Anti-Lottery Act (Act), 28 Stat. 963 (1895), after he was charged with conspiracy to violate the Act by carrying lottery tickets from one state to another using a freight company. The lower court denied appellant's writ of habeas corpus, holding that the Act was not a restraint on appellant's liberties in violation of the Constitution.


Does Congress have the power to suppress lotteries by prohibiting any person from causing lottery tickets to be carried from one State to another?




On appeal, the Court affirmed and held that lottery tickets were subjects of traffic among those who trade in them and thus, that the carriage of such tickets by independent carriers from one state to another involved interstate commerce. The Court also held that such carriage was subject to regulation by Congress under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. Since the Commerce Clause granted Congress plenary authority over interstate commerce, it was within Congress' power to invoke the Federal Anti-Lottery Act and prohibit carriage of such tickets among states.

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