Maul v. United States,
274 U.S. 501 (1927)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Maul v. United States, 274 U.S. 501 (1927)

Maul v. United States{|274 U.S. 501fn1|1}

No. 655

Argued January 19, 20, 1927

Decided May 31, 1927

274 U.S. 501


1. Officers of the Coast Guard are authorized, by virtue of Rev.Stats. § 3072, to seize on the high seas more than 12 miles from the coast an American vessel subject to forfeiture for violation of the revenue laws. Pp. 274 U. S. 503, 274 U. S. 512.

2. Section 3072 of the Revised Statutes, providing that

"It shall be the duty of the several officers of the customs to seize and secure any vessel or merchandise which shall become liable to seizure by virtue of any law respecting the revenue, as well without as within their respective districts"

was not affected by the first paragraph of § 581 of the Act of September 21, 1922, which provides primarily for boarding and searching vessels "at any place in the United States or within four leagues of the coast" to discover and prevent intended smuggling, and secondarily for prompt seizure of the vessel by the searching officer if the search disclose a violation of the law which subjects her to forfeiture. P. 274 U. S. 505.

3. In construing altered revenue laws, the whole system must be regarded in each alteration, and no disturbance allowed of existing legislative rules of general application beyond the clear intention of Congress. P. 274 U. S. 508.

4. Sections 4337 and 4377 of the Revised Statutes, which subject to forfeiture any vessel, enrolled or licensed in the coastwise trade,

Page 274 U. S. 502

which shall proceed upon a foreign voyage without giving up her enrollment or license and without being duly registered, and any licensed vessel employed in trade other than that for which she was licensed, are directed to the protection of the revenue (besides being regulations of commerce), and therefore come within the term "law respecting the revenue" as used in § 3072, supra. P. 274 U. S. 508.

5. Officers of the Coast Guard are "officer of the customs," having "districts" within the meaning of Rev.Stats. § 3072, and are authorized to make seizure thereunder. P. 274 U. S. 509.

6. The provision of Rev.Stats. § 3072, for seizures by officers of the customs "as well without as within their respective districts," is to be construed as respects domestic vessels to include the sea outside of customs districts. P. 274 U. S. 510.

7. Congress has power to authorize seizure of domestic vessels on the high seas for violation of the revenue laws. P. 274 U. S. 511.

13 F.2d 433 affirmed.

CERTIORARI (73 U.S. 684) to a decree of the circuit court of appeals reversing one by the district court, 6 F.2d 937, which dismissed a libel for the forfeiture of a domestic vessel charged with violations of the revenue laws. The ground of the dismissal was that the seizure of the vessel more than twelve miles from the coast, and by officers of the Coast Guard, was unwarranted by law, and that the district court was therefore without jurisdiction.

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