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UNITED STATES V. BALLIN, 144 U. S. 1 (1892)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Ballin, 144 U.S. 1 (1892)

United States v. Ballin

No. 1061

Argued December 2, 1891

Decided February 29, 1892

144 U.S. 1


The provision in Rule XV of the House of Representatives of the Fifty-first Congress that

"On the demand of any member, or at the suggestion of the Speaker, the names of members sufficient to make a quorum in the hall of the house who do not vote shall be noted by the clerk and recorded in the journal, and reported to the Speaker with the names of the members voting, and be counted and announced in determining the presence of a quorum to do mousiness,"

is a constitutional mode of ascertaining the presence of a quorum, empowered to act as the House.

Under the provision in the Act of May 9, 1890, 26 Stat. 105, c. 200, the duties on worsted cloths were, by the terms of the act, and irrespective of any action by the Secretary of the Treasury, to be such as were placed on woolen cloths by the Act of March 3, 1883. 22 Stat. c. 121, pp. 488, 508.

In July, 1890, the appellees imported into New York certain goods which they claimed to be dutiable as manufactures of worsted at the rate described in Schedule K of the Act of March 3, 1883. 22 Stat. 509. The collector assessed them at the rate prescribed in that schedule as manufactures of wool. 22 Stat. 508. This he did by

Page 144 U. S. 2

reason of an act claimed to have passed by Congress in 1890, as follows:

"Chap. 200. An act providing for the classification of worsted cloths as woolens."

"Be it enacted, etc., that the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he hereby is, authorized and directed to classify as woolen cloths all imports of worsted cloth whether known under the name of 'worsted cloth' or under the names of 'worsteds' or 'diagonals,' or otherwise."

"Approved May 9, 1890."

26 Stat. 105.

The hoard of general appraisers found these facts:

"(1) That the goods in question are worsted, and not woolen goods."

"(2) That the Secretary of the Treasury never examined or classified the goods in question."

"(3) That the journal of the House of Representatives shows the facts attending the passage of the Act of May 9, 1890, thus:"

"The Speaker laid before the house the bill of the house (H.R. 9548) providing for the classification of worsted cloths as woolens, coming over from last night as unfinished business, with the previous question, and the yeas and nays ordered."

"The house having proceeded to the consideration, and the question being put,"

"Shall the bill pass?"

"There appeared,"

"Yeas -- 138."

"Nays -- 3."

"Not voting -- 189."

"The said roll-call having been recapitulated, the Speaker announced, from a list noted and furnished by the clerk at the suggestion of the Speaker, the following named members as present in the hall when their names were called, and not voting, viz.:"

"[Here follows an alphabetical list of the names of seventy-four members.]"

"The Speaker thereupon stated that the said members

Page 144 U. S. 3

present and refusing to vote, (74 in number), together with those recorded as voting (138 in number), showed a total of 212 members present, constituting a quorum present to do business, and that the yeas being 138, and the nays none, the said bill was passed."

On appeal, the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York sustained the claim of the importers and reversed the decision of the collector, 45 F. 170, from which judgment the United States appealed to this Court.

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