U.S. Supreme Court
Dooley v. United States, 183 U.S. 151 (1901)
Dooley v. United States
Argued January 8-11, 1901
Decided December 2, 1901
183 U.S. 151
The Act of Congress taking effect May 1, 1900, and known as the Foraker Act, which requires all merchandise going into Porto Rico from the United States to pay a duty of fifteen percent of the amount of duties paid upon merchandise imported from foreign countries, is constitutional.
The Constitution, in declaring that no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state, is limited to articles exported to a foreign country, and has no application to Porto Rico, which, in the case of De Lima chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
v. Bidwell, 182 U. S. 1, was held not to be a foreign country within the meaning of the general tariff law then in force.
The fact that the duties so collected were not covered into the general fund of the Treasury, but held as a separate fund to be used for the government and benefit of Porto Rico, and were made subject to repeal by the legislative assembly of that island, shows that the tax was not intended as a duty upon exports, and that Congress was undertaking to legislate for the island temporarily, and only until a local government was put in operation.
This was an action begun in the circuit court as a court of claims by the firm of Dooley, Smith & Co. to recover duties exacted of them and paid under protest to the collector of the port of San Juan, Porto Rico, upon merchandise imported into that port from the port of New York after May 1, 1900, and since the Foraker Act. This act requires all merchandise "coming into Porto Rico from the United States" to be
"entered at the several ports of entry upon payment of fifteen percentum of the duties which are required to be levied, collected, and paid upon like articles of merchandise imported from foreign countries."
A demurrer was interposed by the district attorney upon the ground that the court had no jurisdiction of the subject of the action, and also that the complaint did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The demurrer to the complaint for insufficiency was sustained, and the petition dismissed.