To those of you who are in high dudgeon over Spitzer possibly violating the Mann Act --- please. The Mann Act is bullshit in a situation where the parties were consensual. Here's Wikipedia's history of the Mann Act. It's often been used for political purposes.
Obviously Spitzer's in big trouble and is very likely to resign. When you build your career as a self righteous crusader, you don't get the benefit of the doubt on stuff like this. But there are questions that should be asked. It is unusual to release the names of johns and it's weird that we still don't know why the feds were wiretapping on some seemingly inconsequential prostitution case in the first place. Is that something the feds spend a lot of time doing these days?
Far be it for me to mistrust the Bush Justice department or think they might have partisan motives, but it might be worth asking whether there might be a little partisan prosecutorial hanky panky involved. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
In any case, we should all try to do better than the media, which has let its tabloid id run free on this story today. I know it's important, but you'd think they could at least get some of the facts straight before they spout every rumor they hear on the air.
I particularly like this one:
On MSNBC, photos of models with names like “Gemma” and “Winslow” pulled from a Web site — which the network said could be the one involved in the case — were flashed on the screen between old clips of Mr. Spitzer railing against corruption.
Update: Jane Hamsher is asking the right questions.
More from Greenwald and Scott Horton
Update II: To be clear. I'm not saying the Mann Act doesn't apply. I'm saying the Mann Act is a musty relic of Jim Crow that should never be applied to consensual sex. It was bad enough back in 1910. That anyone would use it in 2008 is outrageous.It should have been repealed long ago.
- Hoke v. United States (227 U.S. 308, 322) (1913). The Court held that Congress could not regulate prostitution per se, as that was strictly the province of the states. Congress could, however, regulate interstate travel for purposes of prostitution or “immoral purposes.”
- Athanasaw v. United States (227 U.S. 326, 328) (1913). The Court decided that the law was not limited strictly to prostitution, but to “debauchery” as well.
- Caminetti v. United States (242 U.S. 470, 484-85) (1917). The Court decided that the Mann Act applied not strictly to purposes of prostitution, but to other noncommercial consensual sexual liaisons. Thus consensual extramarital sex falls within the genre of “immoral sex.”
- Gebardi v. United States (287 U.S. 112) (1932). The Court held that the statutory intent was not to punish a woman's acquiescence; therefore, consent by the woman does not expose her to liability.
- Cleveland v. United States (329 U.S. 14, 16-17) (1946). The Court decided that a person can be prosecuted under the Mann Act even when married to the woman if the marriage is polygamous. Thus polygamous marriage was determined to be an “immoral purpose.”
- Bell v. United States (349 U.S. 81, 83) (1955). The Supreme Court decided that simultaneous transportation of two women across state lines constituted only one violation of the Mann Act, not two violations.