“Your Money Or Your Life”
As I catch up with opinions from the end of the term, I finally came to U.S. v. Taylor. This case considers whether attempted Hobbs Act robbery qualifies as a “crime of violence.” Justice Gorsuch’s majority opinion offered this colorful hypothetical:
A hypothetical helps illustrate the point. Suppose Adam tells a friend that he is planning to rob a particular store on a particular date. He then sets about researching the business’s security measures, layout, and the time of day when its cash registers are at their fullest. He buys a ski mask, plots his escape route, and recruits his brother to drive the getaway car. Finally, he drafts a note—”Your money or your life”—that he plans to pass to the cashier. The note is a bluff, but Adam hopes its implication that he is armed and dangerous will elicit a compliant response. When the day finally comes and Adam crosses the threshold into the store, the police immediately arrest him. It turns out Adam’s friend tipped them off.
Gorsuch returns to the hypothetical later in the opinion:
Of course, threats can be communicated verbally or nonverbally—pointing a gun at a cashier conveys a threat no less effectively than passing a note reading “your money or your life.” But one way or another, some form of communication is usually required.
“Your money or your life!” This line should sound familiar. It featured prominently in NFIB v. Sebelius. I described the oral argument in Unprecedented:
To illustrate that the Medicaid grant was coercive, Justice Scalia harkened back to “the old Jack Benny thing, ‘your money or your life.'” The “your money or your life” bit came from a classic episode of The Jack Benny Show, first aired on March 28, 1948—exactly sixty-four years to the day of the Medicaid oral arguments. (I’ll assume that Scalia the Originalist knew this.) During the sketch, Jack Benny is approached by a mugger who demands, “Don’t make a move, this is a stickup. Now, come on. Your money or your life?” With a gu
Article from Reason.com