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Luckenbach Steamship Company v. United States, 280 U.S. 173 (1930)

Luckenbach Steamship Company v. United States

No. 49

Argued December 4, 5, 1929

Decided January 6, 1930

280 U.S. 173


1. Ports in the Canal Zone are to be regarded as foreign ports within the meaning of Rev.Stats. § 4009, U.S.Code, Title 39, § 654, dealing with the compensation allowable for transportation of mail, by United States ships, between the United States and "any foreign port." P. 280 U. S. 177.

So held because of a long continued legislative and administrative construction of the section in its application to the Canal Zone, and without regard to whether, under the treaty of cession, titular sovereignty over the Zone remains in the Republic of Panama.

2. In case of ambiguity, a construction of a statute by the department charged with its execution should be favored by the courts, and, where such construction has been acted on for a number of years, they will look with disfavor upon any sudden change whereby parties who have contracted with the government on the faith of it may be prejudiced. P. 280 U. S. 182.

66 Ct.Cls. 679 reversed.

Certiorari, 279 U.S. 831, to review a judgment dismissing a claim for a balance due the steamship company for transporting mails.

Page 280 U. S. 176

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