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Elliott Spitzer: Latest victim of the Mann Act

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Mar. 11th, 2008 | 10:44 am
music: A3 - Adrenaline

Of course, it's all very embarrassing and sad that Elliott Spitzer's name was leaked to the press, along with an affidavit alleging his involvement in prostitution. Now, will someone please explain why this case was prosecuted by the Public Integrity Section under the White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910? Also known as The Mann Act, this law has been used most notably to bring down politically motivated targets.

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Comments {18}

ikkarus01

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from: ikkarus01
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
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I read somewhere that it has to do with the fact that he paid to have the prostitute cross state lines. I don't know the details, though, and I'm way too lazy to look.

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Clayfoot

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from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
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That is, indeed, how the Mann Act can be applied to such a case. The Supreme Court ruled on the Act in 1913 that, while Congress could not regulate prostitution, per se, it could regulate interstate travel for the purposes of prostitution or other "immoral purposes." Not the best law on record, but very useful if you want to bring down a public figure.

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Clayfoot

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from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
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Just to clarify a bit, it doesn't really matter that Spitzer transferred a prostitute across state lines. Under the Mann Act, Spitzer (or anyone else) can be prosecuted under the Mann Act for transferring someone across state lines for any kind of extramarital sex, including consensual sex between two single people.

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ikkarus01

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from: ikkarus01
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
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Really? Well that's a pretty bizarre interpretation. That sounds like it's open to a whole array of potential misuses.

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Clayfoot

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from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
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And from the Supreme Court, no less (via Wikipedia):
  • Hoke v. United States (227 U.S. 308, 322) (1913). The Court held that Congress could not regulate prostitution per se, as that was strictly the province of the states. Congress could, however, regulate interstate travel for purposes of prostitution or “immoral purposes.”
  • Athanasaw v. United States (227 U.S. 326, 328) (1913). The Court decided that the law was not limited strictly to prostitution, but to “debauchery” as well.
  • Caminetti v. United States (242 U.S. 470, 484-85) (1917). The Court decided that the Mann Act applied not strictly to purposes of prostitution, but to other noncommercial consensual sexual liaisons. Thus consensual extramarital sex falls within the genre of “immoral sex.”
  • Gebardi v. United States (287 U.S. 112) (1932). The Court held that the statutory intent was not to punish a woman's acquiescence; therefore, consent by the woman does not expose her to liability.
  • Cleveland v. United States (329 U.S. 14, 16-17) (1946). The Court decided that a person can be prosecuted under the Mann Act even when married to the woman if the marriage is polygamous. Thus polygamous marriage was determined to be an “immoral purpose.”
  • Bell v. United States (349 U.S. 81, 83) (1955). The Supreme Court decided that simultaneous transportation of two women across state lines constituted only one violation of the Mann Act, not two violations.
Many of the notable victims of the Mann Act were simply involved in extramarital affairs.

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ikkarus01

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from: ikkarus01
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
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Bell v. United States (349 U.S. 81, 83) (1955). The Supreme Court decided that simultaneous transportation of two women across state lines constituted only one violation of the Mann Act, not two violations.

Well, at least they have a two-for-one deal. Good to know that importing a threesome is only considered a single act of "immoral sex".

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Clayfoot

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from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
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Right! It's the transportation that the law addresses; moving two women is only one act of transportation, according to the ruling. The particular number of sex acts committed is unregulated by this act, and is presumably left to the imagination.

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ikkarus01

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from: ikkarus01
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
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But what if the women were transported separately for the purposes of a single act? If they arrived in separate cars, that would constitute multiple violations?

I guess, like many things, prostitution benefits from bulk shipping.

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Clayfoot

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from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
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I presume it would be one violation for each separate act of transportation. One wonders whether lesbians can ever be prosecuted under this act, since one of the Supreme Court rulings specifically exempts women from liability if they are consenting.

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ikkarus01

(no subject)

from: ikkarus01
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
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Lesbians get all the breaks.

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(Deleted comment)

Clayfoot

(no subject)

from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
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Try the Google cache or the Internet way-back machine, though those are bound to be swamped, too.

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Cei-u Thunderbolt

(no subject)

from: k_sui
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
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Slate had the rundown yesterday in their "Hot Document" column.

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Clayfoot

(no subject)

from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
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Well, you'd have to judge by looking from the nose, down.

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ariock(r)

(no subject)

from: ariock
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
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This WHOLE THING started ringing alarm bells in my head when I heard they'd found the information during federal wiretapping.

I wonder if they could show whether or not any of this was found under putative anti-terrorism laws.

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Clayfoot

(no subject)

from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
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A good question. According to ABC news, the investigation started when Spitzer's bank reported to the IRS about suspicious money transfers from his account. We're talking in the thousands of dollars, here. Now, why do you suppose the bank contacted the IRS, instead of Spitzer? And how did that report lead to an affidavit filing under the Mann Act?
The suspicious financial activity was initially reported by a bank to the IRS which, under direction from the Justice Department, brought in the FBI's Public Corruption Squad.

"We had no interest at all in the prostitution ring until the thing with Spitzer led us to learn about it," said one Justice Department official.

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vectorb

(no subject)

from: vectorb
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
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Why does Mann always gata keep you down?

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Clayfoot

(no subject)

from: clayfoot
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
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To extirpate extramarital interstate intercourse, apparently.

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vectorb

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from: vectorb
date: Mar. 11th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
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Damn the Mann! (act)

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