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UNITED STATES V. STONE & DOWNER CO., 274 U. S. 225 (1927)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Stone & Downer Co., 274 U.S. 225 (1927)

United States v. Stone & Downer Company

No. 150

Argued February 24, 1927

Decided May 16, 1927

274 U.S. 225


1. A judgment of the Court of Customs Appeals deciding the classification of goods and the duty upon their importation is not res judicata, estopping the government, upon another importation of the same kind of goods by the same importer. . P. 274 U. S. 230.

2. This rule was established by the Court of Customs Appeals during the years succeeding its creation when its jurisdiction over such customs cases was exclusive and final, and for that reason and

Page 274 U. S. 226

because of the wisdom of the rule as applied to the peculiar subject matter, this Court upholds it. P. 274 U. S. 235.

3. In par. 18 of the Emergency Tariff Act of May 27, 1921, imposing duties on "wool, commonly known as clothing wool," the term "clothing wool" is to be interpreted in its natural and usual meaning of wool used in making clothing, and not in its commercial or trade meaning of wool used in the carding process, as distinguished from that used in the combing process, in the making of yarn. P. 274 U. S. 237.

4. The rule giving controlling weight to commercial or trade meanings of words designating particular kinds of goods in tariff acts is but an aid in ascertaining the intent of Congress, and must yield where the words used and the history and manifest object of the provision show clearly that other meanings were intended. Pp. 274 U. S. 239, 274 U. S. 247.

5. In this instance, the words "commonly known as" evince an intention to adopt the common meaning of "clothing wool," in accord with the purpose of Congress to protect the wool market in this country and increase the revenue, while acceptance of the trade meaning of "clothing wool," would permit combing wool, constituting one-half of the wool of which clothing is made, to be imported free of duty, in defeat of that purpose. P. 274 U. S. 248.

6. Testimony of expert witnesses is admissible to prove the ordinary meaning of the terms "clothing wool," and "carpet wool," used in a tariff classification. P. 274 U. S. 245.

12 Cust.Appls. 557 reversed.

Certiorari (269 U.S. 542) to a judgment of the Court of Customs Appeals which affirmed the Board of General Appraisers, G.A. 8842, 46 T.D. 142, in classifying certain importations of wool in the fleece and in yarn and in cloth as entitled to free entry under the Tariff Act of October 3, 1913, and as not subject to duty as " clothing wool" and manufactures thereof under paragraphs 18 and 19 of the Act of May 27, 1921. The judgment of the Board sustained protests of the importers against assessments made by the collector under the latter enactment.

The importations in this case were nine in number. In a previous case, not reviewed here, there were thirteen. See 12 Cust.Appls. 557; G.A. 8613; T.D. 141. The

Page 274 U. S. 227

issue was exactly the same in both cases except that the thirteenth importation in the first case was conceded by all parties to come within pars. 18 and 19. By error, the opinion originally filed treated the second case as involving the same number of importations. A petition for rehearing was submitted and denied, but the error as to the number of importations was corrected by order of court, October 10. 1927.

Page 274 U. S. 229

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