UNITED STATES V. RODGERS, 466 U. S. 475 (1984)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Rodgers, 466 U.S. 475 (1984)

United States v. Rodgers

No. 83-620

Argued March 27, 1984

Decided April 30, 1984

466 U.S. 475


Respondent was indicted for making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Secret Service, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, which makes it a crime knowingly and willfully to make a false statement "in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States." Respondent admittedly had lied in telling the FBI that his wife had been kidnaped when, in fact, as the FBI determined upon investigation, she had left him voluntarily, and in also telling the Secret Service that his wife was involved in a plot to assassinate the President when, in fact, the Secret Service, after investigating the charge and upon locating the wife, was told by her that she had left home to get away from respondent. The District Court granted respondent's motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that the investigations were not matters "within the jurisdiction" of the respective agencies, as that phrase is used in § 1001. The Court of Appeals affirmed, relying on its decision in a prior case that limited the term "jurisdiction" as used in § 1001 to "the power to make final or binding determinations."

Held: The language of § 1001 clearly encompasses criminal investigations conducted by the FBI and Secret Service, and nothing in the legislative history indicates that Congress intended a more restrictive reach for the statute. Pp. 466 U. S. 479-484.

(a) A criminal investigation surely falls within the meaning of "any matter," and the FBI and Secret Service equally surely qualify as "department[s] or agenc[ies] of the United States." And the most natural, nontechnical meaning of "jurisdiction" is that it covers all matters confided to the authority of an agency or department. Understood in this way, the statutory phrase "within the jurisdiction" merely differentiates the official, authorized functions of an agency or department from matters peripheral to its business. To limit the term "jurisdiction," as the Court of Appeals did, would exclude from the statute's coverage most, if not all, of the authorized activities of many federal departments and agencies, and thereby defeat Congress' purpose in using the broad inclusive language it did. Pp. 466 U. S. 479-482.

(b) Policy arguments favoring a more limited construction of the statute will not change the result in this case. Resolution of the pros and

Page 466 U. S. 476

cons of whether a statute should sweep broadly or narrowly is for Congress. Pp. 466 U. S. 482-484.

(c) The critical statutory language of § 1001 is not sufficiently ambiguous to permit the rule of lenity in construing criminal statutes to control here. P. 466 U. S. 484.

(d) Any argument against retroactive application of this decision to respondent, even if he could establish reliance on the Court of Appeals' decision in the prior case, is unavailing, since conflicting cases from other Courts of Appeals made review of the merits by this Court and a decision against respondent's position reasonably foreseeable. P. 466 U. S. 84.

706 F.2d 854, reversed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

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