KOMADA & CO. V. UNITED STATES, 215 U. S. 392 (1910)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Komada & Co. v. United States, 215 U.S. 392 (1910)

Komada & Co. v. United States

No. 220

Argued November 29, 30, 1909

Decided January 3, 1910

215 U.S. 392


The construction given by the department charged with executing a tariff act is entitled to great weight, and where for a number of years a manufactured article has been classified under the similitude section, this Court will lean in the same direction, and so held that the Japanese beverage sake is properly dutiable under § 297 of the Tariff Act of July 24, 1897, c. ll, 30 Stat. 151, 205, as similar to still wine, and not as similar to beer.

After a departmental classification of an article under the similitude section of a tariff law, the reenactment by Congress of a tariff law without specially classifying that article may be regarded as a qualified approval by Congress of such classification.

This case is before us on a writ of certiorari to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The question is the proper classification, under the Tariff Act of July 24, 1897, 30 Stat. 151, c. 11, of a Japanese beverage Known as "sake." "Sake" is not named in that act, but § 7 (p. 205), frequently spoken of as "the similitude section," reads as follows:

"That each and every imported article, not enumerated in this act, which is similar, either in material, quality, texture, or the use to which it may be applied, to any article enumerated in this act as chargeable with duty, shall pay the same rate of duty which is levied on the enumerated article which it most resembles in any of the particulars before mentioned, and if any nonenumerated article equally resembles two or more enumerated articles on which different rates of duty are chargeable, there shall be levied on such nonenumerated

Page 215 U. S. 393

article the same rate of duty as is chargeable on the article which it resembles, paying the highest rate of duty."

In November, 1904, petitioner imported some sake at the port of San Francisco, and, following prior rulings, the collector, under the similitude section, held it similar to still wine containing more than fourteen percent of absolute alcohol, and dutiable accordingly at fifty cents per gallon, under paragraph 296 (p. 174). The petitioner protested, and claimed that it was either a nonenumerated manufactured article, dutiable at twenty percent ad valorem, under § 6 (p. 205), or, by reason of similitude to ale, porter, or beer at twenty cents per gallon under paragraph 297 (p. 174). Both the Board of General Appraisers and the circuit court sustained the protest, feeling themselves constrained by the decision of the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York (Nishimiya v. United States, 131 F.6d 0), and that of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (United States v. Nishimiya, 137 F.3d 6). On appeal, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision of the circuit court and sustained the classification made by the collector.

Page 215 U. S. 396

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