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UNITED STATES V. MORRISON, 179 U. S. 456 (1900)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Morrison, 179 U.S. 456 (1900)

United States v. Morrison

Nos. 15-16

Argued December 12, 1699

Decided December 17, 1900

179 U.S. 456


These cases are concerned with the classification of certain articles imported by the respondents under the Tariff Act of 1890. Those imported by E. A. Morrison & Son were variously colored in imitation of "cat's eyes" or "tiger's eyes," and were strung. Others were colored in resemblance to the garnet, aqua marine, moonstone and topaz. Those imported by Wolff & Co. were in imitation of pearls, it is claimed, and were also strung. The contention is as to how they shall be classified or made dutiable -- whether under paragraph 108 or under paragraph 454 of the act of 1890.

Held that, if the act of 1890 did not as specifically provide for beads as prior acts, glass beads as such were in the legislative mind, and their various conditions contemplated. It was impossible to have in contemplation glass beads, loose, unthreaded and unstrung (445), and not have the exact opposite in contemplation -- beads not loose, beads threaded and strung, and made provision for them. What provision? Were they to be dutiable at the same or at a higher rate than beads unthreaded or

Page 179 U. S. 457

unstrung? If at the same rate -- if all beads were to be dutiable at the same rate, why have qualified any of them? Were some to be dutiable at one rate and some at another rate? If made of plain glass, were they to be dutiable at sixty percentum under paragraph 108; if tinted or made to the color of some precious stone, were they to be dutiable at ten percentum under paragraph 454? No reason is assigned for such discrimination, and we are not disposed to infer it. It is a more reasonable inference that beads threaded of all kinds were intended to be dutiable at a higher rate than beads unthreaded, and if there can be a choice of provisions, that intention must determine. Indeed, admitting that either provision (paragraph 108 or paragraph 454) equally applied, the statute prescribed the rule to be that "if two or more rates of duty shall be applicable to any imported article, it shall pay duty at the highest of such rates."

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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