The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 7-1 Monday in Taylor v. United States [SCOTUSblog materials] that the Hobbs Act [DOJ backgrounder] applies to a drug robbery. The Hobbs Act makes it a crime for a person to affect commerce, or to attempt to do so, by robbery. In an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, the court found that because Congress has the power to regulate the market for marijuana under the Commerce Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder], Congress may also regulate drug theft. “By targeting a drug dealer in this way, a robber necessarily affects or attempts to affect commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction.” Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion. He would “hold that the Act punishes a robbery only when the Government proves that the robbery itself affected interstate commerce.”
Petitioner David Taylor was gang member who broke into the home of a drug dealer and stole marijuana, drug proceeds and a cell phone. He was prosecuted under the Hobbs Act and was eventually convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case in October and heard oral arguments [JURIST reports] in February.