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THOMPSON V. UNITED STATES, 246 U. S. 547 (1918)

U.S. Supreme Court

Thompson v. United States, 246 U.S. 547 (1918)

Thompson v. United States

No. 184

Argued March 12, 1918

Decided April 15, 1918

246 U.S. 547


Section 162 of the Judicial Code, conferring jurisdiction on the Court of Claims in certain cases to determine the claims of those "whose property was taken" and sold under the Abandoned Property Act of March 12, 1863, and amendments, applies only to claims based on ownership at the time of seizure.

Where an owner of cotton sold it to the Confederate government, accepting Confederate bonds as full payment and agreeing to care for it and deliver it as ordered, and the cotton was seized under the Act of 1863, supra, while still in his possession, held that he was neither owner nor lienor, notwithstanding the bonds had become worthless and his vendee insolvent, and that there was no basis for a suit by his administrator in the Court of Claims. Whitfield v. United States, 92 U. S. 165.

The intention of the Congress is to be sought for primarily in the language used, and where this expresses an intention reasonably intelligible and plain, it must be accepted without modification by resort to construction or conjecture.

It is to be presumed that an intention to change the law as declared by this Court will be expressed by Congress in plain terms, especially where the matter is very important, rather than in such as are consonant with and within the scope of this Court's previous decision.


The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 246 U. S. 548

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