Puerto Rico v. Shell Co. - 302 U.S. 253 (1937)


U.S. Supreme Court

Puerto Rico v. Shell Co., 302 U.S. 253 (1937)

Puerto Rico v. Shell Co. (P.R.), Limited

No. 18

Argued November 9, 1937

Decided December 6, 1937

302 U.S. 253

Syllabus

1. The meaning of a particular word as used in a particular instance in a statute is to be arrived at by consideration not only of the word itself, but also of the context, the purposes of the law, and the circumstances under which the word was used. P. 302 U. S. 258.

2. The word "territory" in § 3 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, forbidding contracts, combinations, or conspiracies "in restraint of trade or commerce in any territory of the United States," etc., was used in its most comprehensive sense, as embracing all organized territories, whether incorporated into the United States or not, and includes Puerto Rico. P. 302 U. S. 259.

3. The existence of § 3 of the Sherman Antitrust Act did not preclude adoption by the legislature of Puerto Rico of a local antitrust Act. P. 302 U. S. 259.

Page 302 U. S. 254

4. The insular legislature of Puerto Rico had authority, under the grant of legislative power contained in § 32 of the Foraker Act and continued in force by § 37 of the Organic Act of 1917, to enact a local antitrust Act. The subject matter is "of a legislative character not locally inapplicable." P. 302 U. S. 260.

5. Puerto Rico's power of local legislation is not limited by any express provision of the Foraker Act or of the Organic Act to subjects in respect of which there is an absence of explicit legislation by Congress, and there is nothing in the nature of the power or in the consequences likely to ensue from the duplicate exercise of it which requires that such a limitation be implied. P. 302 U. S. 263.

6. The federal appellate courts have power to resolve a conflict of decisions between the insular courts of Puerto Rico and the federal district court. P. 302 U. S. 263.

7. A prosecution under either the Sherman Act or the antitrust Act of Puerto Rico is a bar to a prosecution under the other for the same offense; wherefore there is no risk of double jeopardy. Grafton v. United States, 206 U. S. 333. P. 302 U. S. 264.

8. In determining questions relating to the history, purpose, and application of territorial powers, pertinent decisions of state supreme courts, rendered when the States were newly created from former territories, are entitled to great weight. P. 302 U. S. 266.

9. El Paso & N.E. Ry. Co. v. Gutierrez, 215 U. S. 87; Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333, and Domenech v. National City Bank, 294 U. S. 199, distinguished. Pp. 302 U. S. 268, 302 U. S. 270.

10. The contention that the Sherman Act and the local antitrust Act of Puerto Rico cannot both stand, because a conflict of jurisdiction between the federal courts and the insular courts may result, cannot be sustained. P. 302 U. S. 271.

86 F.2d 577 reversed.

Certiorari, 301 U.S. 675, to review a judgment affirming a judgment of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico which dismissed an appeal from an order of the insular district court sustaining demurrers to an information charging violation of the local antitrust Act.

Page 302 U. S. 255



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