Wills misread the Federal Kidnapping Act to reach a conclusion that 1) unconstitutionally enabled federal jurisdiction by allowing a federal criminal law to be utilized against a wholly intrastate crime; 2) violated the tenets of federalism by granting federal authorities power over an area traditionally reserved to the states; and 3) contradicted both precedent and the legislative purpose of the Act by extending the law to a crime--intrastate kidnapping--that it has never been understood to cover.
THE FEDERAL KIDNAPPING ACT: FROM INCEPTION TO WILLS
Originally enacted in 1932 as a response to the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby, the Federal Kidnapping Act (24) was designed to assist state governments in quashing the then "epidemic" of organized kidnapping syndicates.
Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit became the first court to explicitly hold that for jurisdiction to attach under the Federal Kidnapping Act, a kidnapper must physically accompany his victim across state lines.
Wills escaped prosecution for the burglary charge, but was later prosecuted under the Federal Kidnapping Act on the theory that he had dispatched Alam to prevent him from testifying in the burglary case.
plain." (145) Though the Wills court felt that Congress had, in fact, conveyed its purpose clearly, (146) the conflicting outcome of McInnis showed this not to be the case, (147) and thereby begs the question: if not the 'clear purpose' of Congress, on what grounds did the Wills court justify its expansive, contrarian interpretation of the Federal Kidnapping Act? (148)
Amazingly, despite the dubious constitutionality of federal criminal laws that regulate wholly intrastate activities, (149) despite the still unsettled position of Lopez, (150) and despite the current Court's attempts to reestablish the limits of federalism, (151) the Wills court nonetheless chose to extend the Federal Kidnapping Act to cover a kidnapping that began and ended in one state.
As explained earlier, (153) the original legislative purpose of the Federal Kidnapping Act was to enable federal authorities to chase kidnappers when they fled from one jurisdiction to another, something that the multitude of individual state statutes had previously made difficult.
Viewing the Federal Kidnapping Act in the context of the complete federal criminal regime puts the error of the Wills decision in specific relief.
(180) This point of view, obviously, informs the policy behind the Federal Kidnapping Act. (181)
In the Federal Kidnapping Act, the actor in the sentence is identified as "whoever unlawfully inveigles or decoys." (228) Therefore, when the Act later requires that the victim "is willfully transported," the "transporter"--the actor doing the transporting--must still be "whoever unlawfully inveigles or decoys."