188 U.S. 321, 23 S.Ct. 321, 47 L.Ed. 492 ( 1903)
An act of Congress of 1895 made it an offense to send or conspire to send lottery tickets in interstate commerce. The defendants who were convicted under the statute appealed from a Circuit Court order dismissing a writ of habeas corpus.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN . . . delivered the opinion of the court.
The appellant insists that the carrying of lottery tickets from one State to another State by an express company engaged in carrying freight and packages from State to State, although such tickets may be contained in a box or package, does not constitute, and cannot by any act of Congress be legally made to constitute, commerce among the states within the meaning of the clause of the Constitution of the United States providing that Congress shall have power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;" consequently, that Congress cannot make it an offense to cause such tickets to be carried from one State to another.
The government insists that express companies, when engaged, for hire, in the business of transportation from one State to another, are instrumentalities of commerce among the States; that the carrying of lottery tickets from one State to another is commerce which Congress may regulate; and that as a means of executing the power to regulate interstate commerce Congress may make it an offense against the United States to cause lottery tickets to be carried from one State to another.
The questions presented by these opposing contentions are of great moment, and are entitled to receive, as they have received, the most careful consideration.
What is the import of the word "commerce" as used in the Constitution? It is not defined by that instrument. Undoubtedly, the carrying from one State to another by independent carriers of things or commodities that are ordinary subjects of traffic, and which have in themselves a recognized value in money, constitutes interstate commerce. But does not commerce among the several States include something more? Does not the carrying from one State to another, by independent carriers, of lottery tickets that entitle the holder to the payment of a certain amount of money therein specified, also constitute commerce among the States? . . .
The leading case under the commerce clause of the Constitution is Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 189, 194. Referring to that clause, Chief Justice Marshall said: "The subject to be regulated is commerce; and our Constitution being, as was aptly said at the bar, one of enumeration, and not of definition, to ascertain the extent of the power, it becomes necessary to settle the meaning of the word. . . . Commerce, undoubtedly, is traffic, but it is something more; it is intercourse. It describes the commercial intercourse between nations, and parts of nations, in all its branches,