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Jones v. United States

United States Supreme Court
529 U.S. 848 (2000)


Dewey Jones (defendant) tossed a Molotov cocktail through his cousin’s window. Nobody was injured, but fire damaged the home. A federal jury convicted Jones under 18 U.S.C. § 844(i), which applies to arson of any building “used” in interstate commerce or activities affecting it. The court ordered restitution and sentenced Jones to 35 years in prison, although the comparable state arson statute carried a 10-year maximum. Jones appealed, arguing that applying the federal statute to arson of a private home exceeded federal Commerce Clause power. Jones’s cousin occupied the home with his family and did not conduct any business activities there. The government argued that receiving a mortgage, insurance, and natural gas from interstate sources qualified as “using” the house in activities affecting interstate commerce. The appellate court affirmed. Jones appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

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