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Trump Should Pardon Jack Johnson – and Everybody Else Convicted Under the Mann Act Who Were Not Pimps or Traveled With an Underage Partner

Let’s go back in Dr. Emmet Brown’s DeLorean to say 1985 and let’s suppose that there was a doppleganger Sandy Sanders – the unholy twin of a certain future blogger (I got nowhere trying to convince the other Sandy not to do it or that Donald J. Trump was the President of the US in 2018!) and this unholy fellow actually talked an attractive and sexy girl to go out with him (This is obviously not me!) and travel to DC or Nags Head for a weekend tryst from Richmond!

GUESS WHAT?  The doppelganger Sandy Sanders just committed a federal felony! (The Mann Act was amended in 1986 essentially to exclude non-commercial travel like this.)

He violated the Mann Act – an act designed to prevent human trafficking enacted in 1910 and within a few years interpreted by the Supreme Court in this case (Caminetti v. US) to include consensual non-commercial trysts across state lines.

It is contended that the act of Congress is intended to reach only “commercialized vice,” or the traffic in women for gain, and that the conduct for which the several petitioners were indicted and convicted, however reprehensible in morals, is not within the purview of the statute when properly construed in the light of its history and the purposes intended to be accomplished by its enactment. In none of the cases was it charged or proved that the transportation was for gain or for the purpose of furnishing women for prostitution for hire, and it is insisted that, such being the case, the acts charged and proved, upon which conviction was had, do not come within the statute.

I thought this case was outrageous when I learned about it in law school and it gets no better now.

So when I read that President Trump ought to pardon the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson (I blogged on this before but it must have been at Conflicted Libertarian, my old blog) I say YES!  Here is the story from the Hill:

“Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted.

“Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!” he continued.

But I would not stop there:  I would find out every case where people were prosecuted for non-commercial, consensual sex with adults (18 or over) where the couple crossed state lines to accomplish its goal and pardon them too:

Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion, was among the first to be charged under the act. In 1913, he was accused of ostensibly transporting a prostitute from Pittsburgh to Chicago. Johnson was convicted and given the maximum sentence: one year and one day. Critics, however, believe that Johnson’s case was racially motivated — the “prostitute” was his white girlfriend.

In 1944, Charlie Chaplin was prosecuted under the Mann Act in a case stemming from a paternity suit involving the actress Joan Barry. Some believe the case was motivated by Chaplin’s left-of-center political views. He was ultimately acquitted, but his image in the U.S. never fully recovered.

Some of my more radical libertarian friends might say go further – as prostitution is a victimless crime or so they say – but I am not ready to go there.  And if the woman or man is a minor, that should not receive a pardon.

But President Trump should grant pardons for all those adults convicted under the Mann Act subject to the conditions stated above.  Invite inquiries and have Special White House Counsel appointed to handle all the applications.  Several lawyers around the country can do it; some might do it pro bono (free).  Maybe start with Farley Drew Caminetti and Maury I. Diggs – if they meet the Sanders criteria (I am not sure the women taken by Diggs and Caminetti were 18 or over).

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

One Response to “Trump Should Pardon Jack Johnson – and Everybody Else Convicted Under the Mann Act Who Were Not Pimps or Traveled With an Underage Partner”

  1. Some Young Guy says:

    Can’t Trump be convicted under the Mann Act for having sex with Stormy Daniels and paying her to do so? What was it at the time 10k…? That’s prostitution in my book. I don’t think he transported her there for that purpose but it was across state lines 🙂


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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