Lottery tickets are subjects of traffic among those who choose to sell or buy them. The carriage of such tickets by independent carriers from one State to another is therefore interstate commerce. Congress, under its power to regulate commerce among the several States -- subject to the limitations imposed by the Constitution upon the exercise of the powers granted -- has plenary authority over such commerce, and may prohibit the carriage of such tickets from State to State. Legislation to that end, and of that character, is not inconsistent with any limitation or restriction imposed upon the exercise of the powers granted to Congress.
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. He insists that the carrying of lottery tickets is not commerce which Congress had the power to regulate. The lower court denied appellant's writ of habeas corpus, holding that the Act was not a restraint on appellant's liberties.
Could the carriage of lottery tickets constitute commerce which may be regulated by Congress?
The Court 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 Act and prohibit carriage of such tickets among states.