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DOOLEY V. UNITED STATES, 182 U. S. 222 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dooley v. United States, 182 U.S. 222 (1901)

Dooley v. United States

No. 601

Argued January 8-11, 1901

Decided May 27, 1901

182 U.S. 222


The Court of Claims, and the Circuit Courts, acting as such, have jurisdiction of actions for the recovery of duties illegally exacted upon merchandise alleged not to have been imported from a foreign country.

Duties upon imports from the United States to Porto Rico, collected by the military commander and by the President as Commander-in-Chief, from the time possession was taken of the island until the ratification of the treaty of peace, were legally exacted under the war power.

As the right to exact duties upon importations from Porto Rico to New York ceased with the ratification of the treaty of peace, the correlative right to exact duties upon imports from New York to Porto Rico also ceased at the same time.

This was an action begun in the circuit court, as a Court of Claims, by the firm of Dooley, Smith & Co., engaged in trade and commerce between Porto Rico and New York, to recover back certain duties to the amount of $5,374.68, exacted and paid under protest at the port of San Juan, Porto Rico, upon several consignments of merchandise imported into Porto Rico from New York between July 26, 1898, and May 1, 1900, viz.:

1. From July 26, 1898, until August 19, 1898, under the terms of the proclamation of General Miles, directing the exaction of the former Spanish and Porto Rican duties.

2. From August 19, 1898, until February 1, 1899, under the customs tariff for Porto Rico, proclaimed by order of the President. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 182 U. S. 223

3. From February 1, 1899, to May 1, 1900, under the amended tariff customs promulgated January 20, 1899, by order of the President.

It thus appears that the duties were collected partly before and partly after the ratification of the treaty, but in every instance prior to the taking effect of the Foraker Act. The revenues thus collected were used by the military authorities for the benefit of the provisional government.

A demurrer was interposed upon the ground of the want of jurisdiction, and the insufficiency of the complaint. The circuit court sustained the demurrer upon the second ground, and dismissed the petition. Hence, this writ of error.

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