Louisiana v. McAdoo
234 U.S. 627 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Louisiana v. McAdoo, 234 U.S. 627 (1914)

Louisiana v. McAdoo

Original

Argued April 14, 1914

Decided June 22, 1914

234 U.S. 627

Syllabus

The United States may not be sued in the courts of this country without its consent.

Whether the United States is in legal effect a party is not always determined by whether it appears as a party on the record, but by the effect of the decree that can be rendered.

A state which happens to operate sugar plantations by its convict labor may not review the action of the Secretary of the Treasury in determining the rate of duty to be collected on foreign sugar any more than any other producer of sugar may do so.

A suit against the Secretary of the Treasury to review his action in determining the rate of duty to be collected, under statutes and treaties, on an imported article, and to mandamus him to collect a specific amount, is in effect a suit against the United States.

Even an importer may not invoke the aid of the courts to clog the wheels of government by attempting to review by mandamus the action of the Secretary of the Treasury in determining the rate of duty to be collected on imported articles.

Determining the rate of duty to be collected under the existing statutes and treaties on foreign sugar is not a mere ministerial act on the part of the Secretary of the Treasury, but one involving judgment and discretion.

While a public officer may by law, and at the instance of one having a particular legal interest, be required to perform a mere ministerial act not requiring the exercise of judgment or discretion, he may not be so required in respect to matters committed to him by law and requiring the exercise of judgment and discretion.

The courts will not interfere with the ordinary functions of the executive department of the government.

Application for leave to file a petition for writ of mandamus against the Secretary of the Treasury to compel him to collect a different amount of duty on sugar imported from Cuba under the provisions

Page 234 U. S. 628

of the existing statute and the Treaty of 1902 with Cuba denied without expressing any opinion on the merit of the question involved.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of this Court to entertain an original suit against the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and the determination of whether the suit is one against the United States, are stated in the opinion.

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