U.S. Supreme Court
Arthur v. Morrison, 96 U.S. 108 (1877)
Arthur v. Morrison
96 U.S. 108
1. Veils manufactured of silk, and commercially known as "crape veils," and not otherwise, do not fall within the enumerating clause of the eighth section of the Act of June 30, 1864, 13 Stat. 210, whereby "silk veils" are dutiable at sixty percent ad valorem, but are within its concluding clause touching manufactures of silk or of which silk is the component material of chief value, not otherwise provided for, and are therefore subject to a duty of fifty percent ad valorem.
2. The designation of an article of commerce by merchants and importers, when it is clearly established, determines the construction of the tariff law when that article is mentioned.
3. The intent of Congress to impose, under the act of 1864, duties upon imported articles according to their commercial designation and to recognize this rule of construing statutes is manifest from the first section of the Act of Feb. 8, 1875, 18 Stat. 307, which subjects to a duty of sixty percent
"all goods, wares, and merchandise not herein otherwise provided for, made of silk, or of which silk is the component material of chief value, irrespective of the classification thereof for duty by or under previous laws or of their commercial designation."
4. A well known rule of statutory construction remains in force until it shall be abolished by Congress.
Morrison and others brought this suit to recover the sum exacted from them by Arthur, the collector of the port of New York, in excess of what they protested was the lawful duty upon certain imported veils.
The portion of the eighth section of the Act of June 30, 1864, c. 171, 13 Stat. 210, applicable to the case, is as follows:
"That on and after the day and year aforesaid, in lieu of the duties heretofore imposed by law on the articles hereinafter mentioned, there shall be levied, collected, and paid, on the goods, wares, and merchandise enumerated and provided for in this section, imported from foreign countries, the following duties and rates of duties, that is to say, . . . on silk vestings, pongees, shawls, scarfs,
mantillas, pelerines, handkerchiefs, veils, laces, shirts, drawers, bonnets, hats, caps, turbans, chemisettes, hose, mitts, aprons, stockings, gloves, suspenders, watch chains, webbing, braids, fringes, galloons, tassels, cords, and trimmings, sixty percent ad valorem. On all manufactures of silk, or of which silk is the component material of chief value, not otherwise provided for, fifty percent ad valorem."
The collector pleaded that the moneys sued for were a part of the lawful duty of sixty percent ad valorem for "silk veils" imported by the plaintiffs. They replied that the veils were not "silk veils," but a manufacture of silk, and were "crape veils;" that at the time of the passage of the Act of June 30, 1864, they were commercially known among importers and dealers, and were bought and sold, as "crape veils," and never otherwise, and were liable to a duty of fifty percent ad valorem as a manufacture of silk. The defendant demurred to the replication. The demurrer was overruled, and judgment rendered for the plaintiffs. The defendant sued out this writ of error.