B. Altman & Co. v. United States
224 U.S. 583 (1912)

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U.S. Supreme Court

B. Altman & Co. v. United States, 224 U.S. 583 (1912)

B. Altman & Co. v. United States

No. 208

Argued April 25, 26, 1912

Decided May 13, 1912

224 U.S. 583

Syllabus

This Court will entertain a direct review of the judgment of the Circuit Court under § 5 of the Circuit Court of Appeals Act of 1891 in a revenue case which involves not only questions of classification and amount of duty thereunder, but also questions as to the constitutionality of a law of the United States or the validity or construction of a treaty under its authority.

Where the importer throughout has insisted that the merchandise is dutiable at the rate fixed by a reciprocal agreement entered into by the United States under § 3 of the Tariff Act of 1897, there is a direct appeal to this Court under § 5 of the Circuit Court of Appeals Act of 1891, provided such agreement is a treaty.

Generally a treaty is a compact between two or more independent nations with a view to the public welfare, but quaere whether, under the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, an agreement is a treaty unless made by the President and ratified by two-thirds of the Senate.

Page 224 U. S. 584

In construing the Circuit Court of Appeals Act of 1891, the intent of Congress will be considered, and it was manifestly to permit rights and obligations resting on international compacts and their construction to be passed on by this Court.

A reciprocal agreement between the United States and a foreign nation entered into and proclaimed by the President under authority of § 3 of the Tariff Act of 1897 is a treaty within the meaning of § 5 of the Circuit Court of Appeals Act.

A term used in a reciprocal agreement made under § 3 of the Tariff Act of 1897 will be construed in the same way that such term is defined in the act itself, and so held that the word "statuary" used in the reciprocal agreement of May 30, 1898, with France of 30 Stat. 1774, includes only such statuary as is cut, carved, or otherwise wrought by hand as the work of a sculptor.

172 F. 161 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction of the tariff acts and of the reciprocal agreement with France of May 30, 1898, are stated in the opinion.

Page 224 U. S. 593

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