American Sugar Refining Co. v. United States
211 U.S. 155 (1908)

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U.S. Supreme Court

American Sugar Refining Co. v. United States, 211 U.S. 155 (1908)

American Sugar Refining Company v. United States

No. 3

Argued November 11, 1908

Decided November 30, 1908

211 U.S. 155




A direct appeal from the Circuit Court will not lie where the only real substantial point is whether or not an officer of the United States has misconstrued a statute.

The claim that the Secretary of the Treasury has exercised legislative power in promulgating, pursuant to § 251, Revised Statutes, regulations concerning the collection of duties under the tariff law does not constitute a real and substantial dispute or controversy concerning the construction or application of the Constitution upon which the result depends, and a direct appeal will not lie to this Court under § 5 of the Act of March 3, 1891, c. 517, 26 Stat. 826, 828.

The regulations of 1897, promulgated by the Secretary of the Treasury, in regard to polariscopic tests of sugar to determine the duty payable thereon, as provided in § 1, Schedule E, par. 209, of the Tariff Act of July 24, 1897, c. 11, 30 Stat. 168, could have been enacted in terms by Congress without violating any provision of the Constitution of the United States, and prior decisions have determined that the Secretary properly construed the statute.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 211 U. S. 157

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

The tariff Act of July 24, 1897, provides (p. 168):

Page 211 U. S. 158

"Par. 209. Sugars not above number sixteen Dutch standard in color, tank bottoms, syrups of cane juice, melada, concentrated melada, concrete and concentrated molasses, testing by the polariscope not above seventy-five degrees, ninety-five one-hundredths of one cent per pound, and for every additional degree shown by the polariscopic test, thirty-five one thousandths of one cent per pound additional, and fractions of a degree in proportion, and on sugar above number sixteen Dutch standard in color, and on all sugar which has gone through a process of refining, one cent and ninety-five one-hundredths of one cent per pound; molasses testing above forty degrees and not above fifty-six degrees, three cents per gallon; testing fifty-six degrees and above, six cents per gallon; sugar drainings and sugar sweepings shall be subject duty as molasses or sugar, as the case may be, according to polariscopic test."

In October, 1897, the Treasury Department issued general regulations * (subsequently modified in particulars not material here) governing sampling and classification of sugars under the above-quoted paragraph, which, among other things, declared:

"The expression 'testing . . . degrees by the polariscope,' occurring in the act, is construed to mean the percentage of pure sucrose contained in the sugar as ascertained by polarimetric estimation."

It was further stated that changes of temperature affect the indications of a polariscope, and to determine by means of it true sucrose contents, apparent readings must be corrected as shown by a table accompanying each instrument and embodying the results of careful experiments therewith; when the thermometer is above 17.5

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