Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sabri v. United States case brief

Sabri v. United States case brief summary
541 U.S. 600 (2004)

Petitioner was charged under 18 U.S.C.S. § 666(a)(2), for offering bribes to a city councilman. Petitioner moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that 18 U.S.C.S. § 666(a)(2) was unconstitutional on its face for failure to require proof of a connection between the federal funds and the alleged bribe. The district court agreed the law was facially invalid. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed. Certiorari was granted.


  • The United States Supreme Court found that while not every bribe or kickback offered or paid to agents of governments covered by 18 U.S.C.S. § 666(b) would be traceably skimmed from specific federal payments, that possibility portended no enforcement beyond the scope of federal interest because corruption did not have to be that limited to affect the federal interest. 
  • Money was fungible, bribed officials were untrustworthy stewards of federal funds, and corrupt contractors did not deliver dollar-for-dollar value. 
  • Money could be drained off because a federal grant was pouring in, and officials were not any the less threatening to the objects behind federal spending just because they accepted general retainers. 
  • It was enough that the statute conditioned the offense on a threshold amount of federal dollars defining the federal interest and on a bribe that went well beyond liquor and cigars. 
  • Congress's decision to enact 18 U.S.C.S. § 666 only after other legislation had failed to protect federal interests was further indication that it was acting within the ambit of the Necessary and Proper Clause,U.S. Constitutional Article I, § 8, clause 18.
The United States Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the judgment of the court of appeals.

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