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Champion v. Ames


Champion v. Ames was the first recognition of a federal police power. In this case, the Court defined the commerce power of Congress in broad terms, recognizing Congress' power to prohibit the transportation of certain items. Because of this de facto federal police power, national protective legislation grew quickly, leading to the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Mann Act.

Charles F. Champion was accused of violating an Act of Congress of 2 March 1895 entitled An Act for the Suppression of Lottery Traffic through National and Interstate Commerce and the Postal Service. The case before the Supreme Court involved the constitutionality of the first section of the act, which forbade the carrying from one state to another of lottery tickets. Champion was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas for conspiracy involving lottery tickets. The indictment charged that on or about 1 February 1899, in Dallas County, Texas, Champion and Charles B. Park conspired to carry lottery tickets from one state to another. Champion and Park had sent a box containing, among other things, two lottery tickets by way of the Wells-Fargo Express Company from Texas to Fresno, California. Champion was arrested in Chicago. Champion filed a writ of habeas corpus, which was dismissed by the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois. The writ of habeas corpus complained that Champion was restrained of his liberty by the Marshal of the United States and that the act of 1895 was void under the Constitution of the United States.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917Champion v. Ames - Significance, An Element Confessedly Injurious To The Public Morals, Suppression Of Lotteries Is A Power Of The States