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U.S. Supreme Court

Merchants National Bank v. United States, 214 U.S. 33 (1909)

Merchants National Bank of Baltimore v. United States

No. 20

Argued March 12, 15, 1909

Decided May 17, 1909

214 U.S. 33


Where two sections of the Revised Statutes, when taken together, are not free from ambiguity and cannot be harmoniously applied, recourse may be had to legislation prior to the Revised Statutes from which the provisions of those sections were drawn in order to arrive at the correct meaning. Hamilton v. Rathbone, 175 U. S. 418, and Bate Refrigerating Co. v. Sulzberger, 157 U. S. 1, distinguished. Sections 5214 and 3411, Rev.Stat., cannot be so construed together, and effect given to both, as to leave a national bank liable to the duty imposed by § 5214 and yet entitle it to the exemption provided by § 3411 under the contingency stated therein.

The provisions in § 3411, Rev.Stat., exempting banks from taxation chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 214 U. S. 34

on circulation, does not relate to national banks, but to state banks only.

One of the public policies of the National Bank Act was to secure the public credit and encourage the issue of notes to circulate as currency founded upon United States bonds, and § 3411 will not be construed as intending to exempt those national banks that allowed their circulation to fall below five percent of their capital from the taxation provided by § 5214 to create a fund to bear the burden common to all national banks for engraving and printing the notes. A uniform construction ever since its enactment for a long period, in this case over thirty-five years, engenders doubt of a new and different construction.

42 Ct.Cl. 6 affirmed.

The facts are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 214 U. S. 38

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