The troubling history of the White-Slave Traffic Act

Omar Wasow in The Root:

Jack20johnson20and20wife20article_2When a self-righteous crusader like Eliot Spitzer is caught with his pants down, a lot of onlookers might feel a tinge of glee to see such hypocrisy revealed.  But the law under which he may be prosecuted, the Mann Act, is a relic that should give pause to anyone looking to hold Spitzer accountable in court on counts of prostitution.

Spitzer, the former TIME magazine “Crusader of the Year,” who has previously directed his righteous fury at “high-end prostitution rings” and “sex tourism,” now looks to be another law-breaking John stung by wiretaps, bank disclosures, and his own hubris and stupidity. Two big questions loom: will he resign and will he serve time?

On the latter question,The New York Times reported that Spitzer might be charged, like the four “ringleaders” of Emperors Club VIP, under the Mann Act. The nearly century-old law prohibits transporting across state lines “a woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”

The history of the Mann Act raises serious questions about the use of federal law enforcement to investigate the private lives of consenting adults.

More here.  [Photo shows boxer Jack Johnson, the first person prosecuted under the Mann Act.]