United States v. Conrad Heinszen

Decision Date27 May 1907
Docket NumberNo. 580,580
Citation27 S.Ct. 742,206 U.S. 370,51 L.Ed. 1098
PartiesUNITED STATES, Appt., v. CONRAD HEINSZEN and Gustav Brockmann, Trading as Partners under the Firm Name of C. Heinszen & Company
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Attorney General Bonaparte, Solicitor General Hoyt, Assistant Attorney General Van Orsdel, and Mr. George M. Anderson for appellant.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 370-374 intentionally omitted] Messrs. Frederic R. Code rt, Henry M. Ward, John G. Carlisle, and Paul Fuller for appellees.

Messrs. Hilary A. Herbert and Benjamin Micou for certain claimants having interests similar to those of appellees.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 374-377 intentionally omitted] Mr. Justice White delivered the opinion of the court:

In an endeavor to clarify the consideration of this contro- versy we invert somewhat the order in which the facts have been stated in the findings below, and refer to previous rulings of this court pertinent to the subject in hand, besides supplementing the same by a reference to relevant matters of public history, of which we take judicial notice.

After the Philippine Islands came under the military control of the United States, the President, on July 12, 1898, issued an order providing for the enforcement by the military power in those islands of a system of tariff duties. This order, promulgated by the Secretary of War, was accompanied with an enumeration of the tariff proposed, and regulations for the collection of the same. However, for causes which need not be referred to, the tariff in question was subsequently modified, and did not go into operation until November, 1898.

The duties imposed by this tariff were levied on goods coming into the Philippine Islands, whether from the United States or other countries. This tariff was in force when the treaty of peace [30 Stat. at L. 1754] was signed (December 10, 1898), when the treaty was ratified (April 11, 1899), and was continued by the Philippine commission appointed by the President in April, 1900. Indeed, the civil government, as established in the islands by the President, either in virtue of his inherent authority or as a result of the power recognized and conferred by the act of Congress approved March 2, 1901 (31 Stat. at L. 910, chap. 803), continued the original tariff in force, except as to some modifications not material to be noticed, and formulated its provisions in the shape of a legislative act entitled 'An Act to Revise and Amend the Tariff Laws of the Philippine Archipelago. And this tariff was in force in March, 1902, when it was expressly approved and continued by Congress. (32 Stat. at L. 54, chap. 140, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1905, p. 388.)

In May, 1901, the cases of De Lima v. Bidwell and Dooley v. United States were by this court decided. 182 U. S. 1, 222, 45 L. ed. 1041, 1074, 21 Sup. Ct. Rep. 743, 762. The first case involved the right to recover duties paid under protest to the collector of the port of New York upon sugar brought into the United States from the island of Porto Rico during the autumn of 1899, and subsequent to the cession of the island. The second case involved the right to recover the amount of certain duties on goods carried into Porto Rico from the United States between July 6, 1898, and May 1, 1900, the duties in question having been levied by authority of the general in command of the army of occupation or subsequently by order of the President as commander in chief. In the first case (De Lima v. Bidwell) it was decided that, as the effect of the ratification of the treaty was to take the island of Porto Rico out of the category of foreign territory, within the meaning of that word as used in existing tariff laws of the United States, no right remained to enforce, against goods coming from Porto Rico into the United States, the previously enacted tariff of duties, although, considering the terms of the treaty and the relation of the island to the United States, Congress ahd power to impose a tariff on goods coming from that island into the United States. As a corollary of the doctrine announced in De Lima v. Bidwell, in the second case (Dooley v. United States) it was held that whilst the President, as commander in chief, had authority to impose tariff duties in Porto Rico on goods coming into that country from the United States prior to the ratification of the treaty, no such executive power existed after that ratification. It was consequently held that none of the duties paid prior to the ratification of the treaty could be recovered, whilst those paid subsequently could be.

In the following year (December 2, 1901) another case, entitled Dooley v. United States, was decided. 183 U. S. 151, 46 L. ed. 128, 22 Sup. Ct. Rep. 62. That case involved the validity of tariff duties levied in Porto Rico on goods brought into that island from the United States, the duties in question having been imposed after the ratification of the treaty, and in and by virtue of the act of Congress known as the Foraker act. Applying the principles announced in the previous cases just referred to, it was held that the duties were lawful because, although collected after the ratification, they were imposed not simply by virtue of the authority of the President, acting under the military power, but in conformity to a valid act of Congress.

And on the same day with the foregoing the case of Fourteen Diamond Rings v. United States (The Diamond Rings) was decided. 183 U. S. 176, 46 L. ed. 138, 22 Sup. Ct. Rep. 59. That case involved the validity of tariff duties levied on diamond rings brought from the Philippine Islands into the United States. Adhering to the doctrines settled by the prior rulings, it was held that, as the Philippine Islands, by the ratification of the treaty, had ceased to be foreign within the meaning of the tariff laws, the imposition of the duties complained of was unlawful. In the course of the opinion the effect of the treaty as applied in the previous cases to Porto Rico was pointed out, and the status of the Philippine Islands in virtue of the treaty was, in effect, held to be controlled by the former decisions.

In April, 1905, the two cases of Lincoln v. United States and Warner, B. & Co. v. United States were by this court decided. 197 U. S. 419, 49 L. ed. 816, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 455. The cases came here, one on error to the district court of the United States for the southern district of New York, and the other by appeal from the court of claims. The one (Lincoln Case) was commenced on March 29, 1902; the other (Warner, B. & Co. Case) on January 17, 1902. In both cases recovery from the United States was sought of the amount of duty paid upon goods taken from the United States into the Philippine Islands after the ratification of the treaty with Spain, and before the passage of the act of Congress of March 8, 1902. Reversing the judgments which had been rendered below in both cases in favor of the United States, it was declared that there was nothing in the situation of the Philippine Islands which took that territory out of the reach of the doctrine announced in the previous cases which we have reviewed, and it was therefore decided that the President was without power, after the ratification of the treaty, in the absence of express authority from Congress, to impose the tariff duties in question. A contention on the part of the United States that Congress, by the 2d section of the act approved July 1, 1902 (entitled 'An Act Temporarily to Provide for the Administration of the Affairs of Civil Government in the Philippine Islands, and for Other Purposes') [32 Stat. at L. 691, chap. 1369], had ratified the action of the President in imposing and collecting the duties in controversy, therefore no recovery could be had, was held to be unfounded, for grounds stated in the opinion, to which we shall hereafter advert. The case was heard upon rehearing, and in a decision announced on May 28, 1906, the views previously entertained by the court were reiterated and adhered to. 202 U. S. 484, 50 L. ed. 1117, 26 Sup. Ct. Rep. 728. In the month following (June, 1906) Congress passed an act containing a provision which reads as follows (34 Stat. at L. 636, chap. 3912):

'That the tariff duties, both import and export, imposed by the authorities of the United States or of the provisional military government thereof in the Philippine Islands prior to March eight, nineteen hundred and two, at all ports and places in said islands, upon all goods, wares, andme rchandise imported into said islands from the United States, or from foreign countries, or exported from said islands, are hereby legalized and ratified, and the collection of all such duties prior to March eight, nineteen hundred and two, is hereby legalized and ratified and confirmed as fully to all intents and purposes as if the same had, by prior act of Congress, been specifically authorized and directed.'

Now this case was commenced after the decision in the Fourteen Ciamond Rings, to recover the amount of tariff duties exacted in the Philippine Islands on merchandise brought from the United States, the duties having been collected under the authority of the order of the President after the ratification of the treaty, but before the time when Congress, by § 1 of the act of March 8, 1902, had enacted tariff duties for the Philippine Islands. The case was pending in the court of claims when the Lincoln and Warner, B. & Co. Cases were decided by this court. It was found by the court below that the military officers of the United States collected the duties and paid over the amount thereof to the treasurer of the Philippine Islands, and that the money was disbursed for the expenses of that government without going into the Treasury of the United States. Considering that the original illegality of the duties complained of was established by the previous decisions of this court, and that the act of Congress of June 30,...

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