The Abby Dodge,
223 U.S. 166 (1912)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Abby Dodge, 223 U.S. 166 (1912)

The Abby Dodge*

No. 41

Argued November 6, 7, 1911

Decided February 19, 1912

223 U.S. 166


Each state owns the beds of all tidewaters within its jurisdiction unless they have been granted away; also the tidewaters themselves and the fish in them so far as they are capable of ownership while running. McCready v. Virginia, 94 U. S. 391.

Congress has no control over sponges growing on the land beneath tidewater within the jurisdiction of a state.

Where two interpretations of a statute are admissible, one of which makes the statute constitutional and the other unconstitutional, the former must be adopted. United States v. Delaware & Hudson Co., 213 U. S. 366,407.

The Act of June 20, 1906, 34 Stat. 313, c. 3442, regulating the landing of sponges at ports of the United States, relates only to sponges taken outside of the territory of any state.

The power of Congress over foreign commerce is complete; no one has a vested right to carry on foreign commerce with the United States. Buttfield v. Stranahan, 192 U. S. 470.

Congress can, by exertion of its power to regulate foreign commerce,

Page 223 U. S. 167

forbid the importation of sponges gathered under conditions expressed in the Act of June 20, 1906.

Where the Act of Congress under which forfeiture is sought does not apply to territorial waters, the libel must aver that he act were done outside of the territorial limits of any state. When Congress, under its power to regulate foreign commerce, prohibits the importation of certain merchandise, it may cast on the one seeking to bring merchandise in the burden of establishing that it is exempt from the operation of the statute. Under the circumstances of this case, it is proper to allow the Government to amend the libel to present a case within the statute as construed in this opinion. The Mary Ann, 8 Wheat. 389.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality and construction of the Act of Congress of June 20, 1906, relating to landing of sponges in ports of the United States, are stated in the opinion.

Page 223 U. S. 172

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