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U.S. Supreme Court

People v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, 107 U.S. 59 (1883)

People v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique

Decided February 5, 1883

107 U.S. 59


1. The statute of New York of May 31, 1881, imposing a tax on every alien passenger who shall come by vessel from a foreign country to the port of New York, and holding the vessel liable for the tax, is a regulation of foreign commerce, and void. Henderson v. Mayor of New York, 92 U. S. 259, and Chy Luay v. Freeman, 92 U. S. 275, cited, and the rulings therein made reaffirmed.

2. The statute is not relieved from this constitutional objection by declaring in its title that it is to raise money for the execution of the inspection laws of the state, which authorize passengers to be inspected in order to determine who are criminals, paupers, lunatics, orphans, or infirm persons, without means or capacity to support themselves and subject to become a public charge, as such facts are not to be ascertained by inspection alone.

3. The words "inspection laws" "imports," and "exports," as used in cl. 2, Section 10, Article I, of the Constitution, have exclusive reference to property.

4. This is apparent from the language of cl. 1, Section 9, of the same article where, in regard to the admission of persons of the African race, the word "migration" is applied to free persons, and "importation" to slaves.

ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

The case is fully stated in the opinion of the Court.

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