Open main menu


Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

159 U.S. 78

United States  v.  Burr

Burr & Hardwick, importers, made an importation of cotton laces, per 'La Navarre,' from Havre. The vessel arrived on August 7, 1894, and the goods were entered by them for consumption at the port of New York on August 8, 1894. Duty thereon was levied and assessed by the collector of customs at 60 per cent. ad valorem under the provisions of Schedule J, paragraph 373, of the tariff act of October 1, 1890, which was then in force. The duty was paid by the importers on August 8, and the goods were delivered to them on August 11, 1894. On August 28, 1894, the entry of the merchandise was liquidated at the customhouse as entered; that is to say, without any change of the duties from those assessed at the time of entry.

On that day the tariff act of that year became a law, and on September 7, 1894, the importers filed their protest, claiming that said cotton laces were dutiable at 50 per cent. ad valorem under paragraph 276 of Schedule J of the act of August, 1894, and were not dutiable under the act of October 1, 1890.

The board of general appraisers affirmed the decision of the collector, General Appraiser Somerville delivering the opinion. The importers appealed to the circuit court, and the return of the board was therein duly filed with the record, and evidence taken by them, together with a certified statement of the facts ino lved in the case and their decision thereon. Evidence was taken in the circuit court before one of the general appraisers as an officer of the court, as to the legislative history of the act of August 28, 1894, from which it appeared:

'(a) That the bill was introduced in the house of representatives on December 19, 1893 (House Bill H. R. 4864).

'(b) That it passed the house of representatives on February 1, 1894.

'(c) That as it then passed the house of representatives the date in sections 1 and 2 was as follows: 'On and after the first day of June, 1894, unless otherwise specially provided for in this act,' etc.

'(d) That the bill was laid before the senate February 2, 1894, and referred to the finance committee.

'(e) That the bill was reported by the finance committee on March 20, 1894.

'(f) That sections 1 and 2 of said bill, when so reported, contained the date of the 30th day of June, 1894, instead of the 1st day of June, 1894.

'(g) That said bill, as amended by the senate, passed the senate on July 3, 1894.

'(h) That, when it passed the senate, the date contained in the first and second sections thereof was August 1, 1894, instead of the 30th day of June, 1894.

'(i) That the bill, as amended in the senate, finally passed the house on August 13, 1894, without change, after a long discussion and deliberation by the committees of conference.

'(j) That on August 15, 1894, having received the signatures of the presiding officers of both houses, the bill was sent to the president of the United States.

'(k) That on August 28, 1894, the bill was sent by the president to the secretary of state, and the following indorsement was made thereon:

"Note by the department of state: The foregoing act, having been presented to the president of the United States for his approval, and not having been returned by him to the house of congress, in which it originated, within the time prescribed by the constitution of the United States, has become a law without his approval.

"H. R. No. 4864: An act to reduce taxation, to provide revenue for the government, and for other purposes.

"August 28, 1894."

It was stipulated in the circuit court that the persons composing the firm of Burr & Hardwick, the importers, were James M. Burr and Charles C. Hardwick; that the merchandise in controversy consisted of 'cotton laces'; that the merchandise, if dutiable under the act of October 1, 1890, was dutiable at 60 per cent. ad valorem, under the provision for cotton laces contained in paragraph 373 of Schedule J of that act; and that if the merchandise was dutiable under the act of August 28, 1894, it was dutiable at 50 per cent. ad valorem, under the provision for cotton laces in paragraph 276 of Schedule J of the latter act. The cause thereafter came on to be tried in the circuit court; and the judge holding that court, after hearing the argument, gave an opinion January 15, 1895 (66 Fed. 742), reversed the decision of the board of general appraisers, and entered judgment January 16, 1895, holding that there was error in the decision of the board of general appraisers, and that the merchandise was properly dutiable as cotton laces at 50 per cent. ad valorem under paragraph 276 of Schedule J of the act of August 28, 1894, and that the entry be reliquidated accordingly. From this judgment or decree an appeal was taken to the circuit court of appeals for the Second circuit, and thereupon that court, desiring the instruction of this court, made its certificate, embodying the foregoing facts, and submitting the following questions:

'(1) Should the assessment for duty of the merchandise described in the foregoing statement of facts, under paragraph 373 of the act of October 1, 1890, be sustained, notwithstanding the provisions of the tariff act of August 28, 1894?

'(2) Should the said merchandise described in the foregoing statement of facts be assessed for duty under paragraph 276, Schedule J, of the tariff act of August 28, 1894?

'(3) Should the rates o duty prescribed by the first section of the tariff act of August, 1894 (unless otherwise specially provided for in said act), be levied, collected, and paid upon all articles imported from foreign countries or withdrawn for consumption on and after August 1, 1894, and prior to August 28, 1894?'

Atty. Gen. Olney and Wallace MacFarland, U.S. Atty.

Charles Curie, W. Wickham Smith, and David Ives Mackie, for appellees.

Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

NotesEdit

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).