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levying an impost upon its products coming into the United States. This is but to say an act of Congress can have the effect of changing the status of a territory from not foreign within the meaning of the tariff laws to foreign within such meaning, although a law attempting to so do would be plainly in violation of the Constitution, if the principle announced in this case be true, that the treaty from the moment of its ratification by its own force caused the ceded territory to be no longer foreign within the meaning of the tariff laws.
The only escape my mind can point out from this deduction is to say that territory which has become domestic, and therefore ceases to be foreign within the meaning of the tariff law, can yet be constitutionally treated by Congress as if it had not ceased to be foreign and had not become domestic. But this would expressly overrule Woodruff v. Parham, (8 Wall. supra,) and cannot therefore be the rule of decision now announced, since that case is referred to and cited approvingly in the opinion of my brethren who dissent in the Downes case, and who do not dissent from the opinion of the court now announced.
Passing these considerations, it is impossible for me to conceive that Porto Rico ceased to be subject to the tariff laws, for the reasons fully stated by me in my concurring opinion in Downes v. Biduell, which need not be reiterated. But, for the purposes of this case and arguendo only, let me now admit that the treaty incorporated Porto Rico into the United States despite the provisions which were contained in that instrument. Does it follow that such territory at once ceased to be subject to the tariff laws before Congress had the time to act? I am constrained to think not.
The power to originate revenue laws is lodged by the Constitution in the House of Representatives. When a tariff bill is drawn the revenue to arise from it must depend upon the sum of the articles which are to be imported and which are to pay the duty provided in the law. Let me illustrate it: Suppose a tariff law is so adjusted that the greater portion of the revenue which it seeks to provide is drawn from a few articles of general consumption. The duties to be paid on these articles, when imported, will, therefore, largely furnish the revenues essential to carry on the government. Suppose a treaty of cession which embraces territory producing in large quantities the articles upon which the existing tariff laws mainly rely for revenue to sustain the government. If, instantly, on the ratification of the treaty, before Congress can remodel or change the laws so as to provide for the support of the government, the articles stated coming into the United States from the country in question would be within the tariff line, and thereby entitled to free entry into the United States, what would become of the power of the House of Representatives and of the Congress on the subject of revenue as pro
vided in the Constitution? It may be said in answer to this suggestion that Congress could make the change, and whilst of course a brief interval of disaster would ensue, during which there would be no revenue, the country must suffer the consequences during such interval. But does this follow? Suppose the political state of the country should be such that there was a difference of opinion as to the policy to be embodied in a tariff law, analogous to that which existed when California was acquired from Mexico, where, in consequence of division on the subject of the slavery question between the different branches of Congress, it was impossible to enact legislation conferring a territorial government upon California, what would be the situation then? Look at it practically from another point of view. Certainly before revenue laws can be made operative in a district or country it is essential that the situation be taken into account, for the purpose of establishing ports of entry, collection districts and the necessary machinery to enforce them.
Of course, it is patent that such investigations cannot be made prior to acquisition. But, as the laws immediately extend, without action of Congress, as the result of acquisition, it must follow that they extend, although none of the means and instrumentalities for their successful enforcement can possibly be devised until the acquisition is completed. This must be, unless it be held that there is power in the government of the United States to enter a foreign country, examine its situation and enact legislation for it before it has passed under the sovereignty of the United States. From the point of view of the United States, then, it seems to me that the doctrine of the immediate placing of the tariff laws outside the line of newly acquired territory, however extreme may be the opinion entertained of the doctrine of immediate incorporation, is inadmissible and in conflict with the Constitution.
Let me look at and illustrate it from the point of view of the ceded territory. In doing so let me take for granted the accuracy of suggestions which have been advanced in argument. It is said that the public revenues of the Island of Porto Rico, except only such as were raised by a burdensome and complicated excise tax on incomes and business vocations, had always been chiefly obtained by duties on imports and exports; that our internal revenue laws, if applied in the island, would prove oppressive and ruinous to many people and interests; that one of the staple productions of the island-coffee-had always been protected by a tariff duty, whereas under our tariff laws coffee was admitted into the United States free of duty; that there way no system of direct taxation of property in operation when the island was ceded, there was no time to establish one, and such a system, moreover, would have entailed upon the people burdens incapable of being borne. I cannot conceive that under the provisions of the Constitution conferring upon Congress the power to raise revenue that consequences such as would flow from immediately putting in force in Porto Rico the revenue laws of the United States could constitutionally be brought about without affording to the Congress the opportunity to adjust the revenue laws of the United States to meet the new situation.
All these suggestions, however, it is argued, but refer to expediency, and are entitled to no weight as against the theory that, under the Constitution, the tariff laws of the United States took effect of their own force immediately upon the cession. But this is fallacious. For, if it be denionstrated that a particular result cannot be accomplished without destroying the revenue power conferred upon Congress by the Constitution, and without annihilating the conceded authority of the government in other respects, such demonstration shows the unsoundness of the argument which magnifies the results flowing from the exercise by the treaty-making power of its authority to acquire, to the detriment and destruction of that balanced and limited government which the Constitution called into being.
Clerk Supreme Court, U.S.
Supreme Court of the United States.
No. 509.-OCTOBER TERM, 1900.
Carlos Armstrong, Appellant,
Appeal from the Court of Claims.
[May 27, 1901.]
This was a petition to the Court of Claims by a British subject, to recover duties exacted by the collector of the port of San Juan, and paid under protest, upon goods, wares and merchandise of the growth, produce or manufacture of the United States, between August 12, 1898, and December 5, 1899.
The same demurrer was filed and the same judgment was entered as in the preceding case.
Mr. Justice BROWN delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case is controlled by the case of Dooley v. United States, (No. 501,) just decided. So far as the duties were exacted upon goods imported prior to the ratification of the treaty of April 11, 1899, they were properly exacted. So far as they were imposed upon importations after that date and prior to December 5, 1899, plaintiff is entitled to recover them back.
The judgment of the Court of Claims is therefore reversed and the case remanded to that court for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Clerk Supreme Court, U. S.