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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Ansonia Brass & Copper Co., 218 U.S. 452 (1910)

United States v. Ansonia Brass & Copper Company

No. 458

Argued October 18, 1910

Decided November 28, 1910

218 U.S. 452


Where the United States claimed in an action in the state court to determine liens on vessels in course of construction, that, under the contract, title had vested in the United States, or that liens had been specially reserved thereon, and also claimed that the rights of the United States were superior to all others, and could not he retarded or impeded by the state lien law, assertions are made of rights and immunities which are the creation of federal authority, and, if denied by the state court, this Court has jurisdiction under § 709, Rev.Stat., to review the judgment.

Stipulations entered into by the United States district attorney to obtain possession of vessels in course of construction and seized by judicial proceedings under state law should not, under §§ 3753, 3754, Rev.Stat., be construed as depriving the United States of any rights asserted under the contracts for constructing such vessels.

Construing the three contracts for construction of vessels involved in this case, the Court construes one contract as vesting title in the United States as the work progressed and the others as not giving the United States a superior lien on the uncompleted vessel as work progressed: in regard to the one contract, the state lien law does not, and in regard to the other contract such law does, apply.

Page 218 U. S. 453

Vessels in course of construction for the United States, the title to which under the contract vests in the government as fast as constructed, become instrumentalities of the government and, for reasons of public policy, cannot be seized under state laws to answer private claims.

Quaere whether a joint resolution has the effect of an act of Congress, but held that the resolution of May 5, 1894, No. 24, 28 Stat. 582, permitting partial payments on vessels under construction for the Treasury Department, did not give the government an express statutory lien on such vessels superior to those given to materialmen by the state lien law.

110 Va. 165 affirmed in part and reversed in part.

The facts, which involve the construction of contracts for the construction of certain vessels for the United States and the relative rights of the United States and others claiming liens on such vessels, are stated in the opinion.

Page 218 U. S. 461

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