Alston v. United States

Decision Date16 May 1927
Docket NumberNo. 898,898
Citation71 L.Ed. 1052,47 S.Ct. 634,274 U.S. 289
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. Hooper Alexander, of Atlanta, Ga., and Frans E. Lindquist, of Kansas City, Mo., for Alston.

[Argument of Counsel from page 290 intentionally omitted] The Attorney General, Massrs. William D. Mitchell, Sol. Gen., and Robert P. Reeder, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., for the United States.

[Argument of Counsel from page 291 intentionally omitted] Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the court.

In the United States District Court, Southern District of Iowa, an indictment with three counts, filed December 2, 1924, charged Alston with violating section 1, Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act, approved December 17, 1914, 38 Stat. 785, c. 1, as amended by Act February 24, 1919, c. 18, 40 Stat. 1057, 1130 1131 (Comp. St. § 6287g), by purchasing morphine and cocaine from unstamped packages. He pleaded 'guilty' and was sentenced to the penitentiary. A writ of error took the cause to the Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, and it asked our instruction upon certain question. Thereupon we required the entire record to be sent here for final determination of the whole matter. Section 239, Judicial Code (Comp. St. § 1216).

Sections 1 and 6 of the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act were amended by the Act of February 24, 1919, and, as thus amended, were re-enacted without change by sections 1005 and 1006, Revenue Act approved November 23, 1921, c. 136, 42 Stat. 227, 298, 300 (Comp. St. §§ 6287g, 6287l). The amending act added the following provisions (among others) to section 1:

'That there shall be levied, assessed, collected, and paid upon opium, coca leaves, any compound, salt, derivative, or preparation thereof, produced in or imported into the United States, and sold, or removed for consumption or sale, an internal-revenue tax at the rate of 1 cent per ounce, and any fraction of an ounce in a package shall be taxed as an ounce, such tax to be paid by the importer, manufacturer, producer, or compounder thereof, and to be represented by appropriate stamps, to be provided by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury; and the stamps herein provided shall be so affixed to the bottle or other container as to securely seal the stopper, covering, or wrapper thereof.

'The tax imposed by this section shall be in addition to any import duty imposed on the aforesaid drugs.

'It shall be unlawful for any person to purchase, sell, dispense, or distribute any of the aforesaid drugs except in the original stamped package or from the original stamped package; and the absence of appropriate tax-paid stamps from any of the aforesaid drugs shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section by the person in whose possession same may be found; and the possession of any original stamped package containing any of the aforesaid drugs by any person...

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25 cases
  • Davis v. Boston & MR Co., 3213.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • April 14, 1937
    ...whereby what was a nominal tax before was made a substantial one. It is certainly a taxing act now as we held in the Alston Case 274 U.S. 289, 47 S.Ct. 634, 71 L.Ed. 1052." The contention that title IX is not a revenue measure is without foundation. It clearly is such, and will produce mill......
  • Boston and Maine Corp., In re, s. 79-1230
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • October 6, 1980
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  • Nigro v. United States
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 9, 1928
    ...Ed. 819, (39 A. L. R. 229), may necessitate a review of that question, if hereafter properly presented.' In Alston v. United States, 274 U. S. 289, 294, 47 S. Ct. 634, 71 L. Ed. 1052, the question of the constitutionality of the act was sought to be presented, but the case only involved the......
  • Casey v. United States, 500
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 9, 1928
    ...249 U. S. 86, 39 S. Ct. 214, 63 L. Ed. 493, was decided, and is said to produce a considerable return. Alston v. United States, 274 U. S. 289, 294, 47 S. Ct. 634, 71 L. Ed. 1052. It is too late to attempt to overthrow the whole act on Child Labor Tax Case, 259 U. S. 20, 42 S. Ct. 449, 66 L.......
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