ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Justice Hunt delivered the opinion of the court.
Mr. Stephen G. Clarke for the plaintiff in error.
Mr. Assistant Attorney-General Smith, contra.
The firm of DeBary & Co. sued the collector of the port of New York to obtain the return of an amount of duties which they alleged had been illegally exacted from them. The Circuit Court, holding that the exaction of the duties complained of was legal, rendered judgment for the defendant. The plaintiffs appeal to this court.
The question arises upon the act of Congress of July 14, 1870 (16 Stat. 262).
By sect. 21 of that statute it is enacted as follows:––
'There shall be levied, collected, and paid, the following duties,' viz.:––
'On all wines imported in casks, containing not more than twenty-two per centum of alcohol, and valued at not exceeding forty cents per gallon, twenty-five cents per gallon; valued at over forty cents and not over one dollar per gallon, sixty cents per gallon; valued at over one dollar per gallon, one dollar per gallon; and, in addition thereto, twenty-five per centum ad valorem.
'On wines of all kinds, imported in bottles, and not otherwise herein provided for, the same rate per gallon as wines imported in casks; but all bottles containing one quart, or less than one quart, and more than one pint, shall be held to contain one quart; and all bottles containing one pint or less shall be held to contain one pint, and shall pay, in addition, three cents for each bottle.
'On champagne, and all other sparkling wines, in bottles, six dollars per dozen bottles, containing each not more than one quart, and more than one pint; and three dollars per dozen bottles, containing not more than one pint each, and more than one-half pint; and one dollar and fifty cents per dozen bottles, containing one-half pint each, or less; and, in bottles containing more than one quart each, shall pay, in addition to six dollars per dozen bottles, at the rate of two dollars per gallon on the quantity in excess of one quart per bottle: Provided, that any liquors containing more than twenty-two per centum of alcohol, which shall be entered under the name of wine, shall be forfeited to the United States. And provided further, that wines, brandy, and other spirituous liquors, imported in bottles, shall be packed in packages containing not less than one dozen bottles in each package; and all such bottles shall pay an additional duty of three cents for each bottle.'
The question presented by the record and arising under this statute is, What rate of duty is imposed upon 'champagne in bottles'? More specifically, Is the duty of six dollars per dozen bottles imposed upon 'champagne in bottles' in this act exhaustive and complete; or did Congress, while enacting a specific rate of duty by the dozen bottles for champagen in bottles, also impose a duty of thirty-six cents for each dozen bottles in addition to the six dollars per dozen specifically named?
The collector of the Port of New York, the defendant in this suit, answered the latter branch of this question in the affirmative. He collected upon the plaintiffs' champagne a duty of six dollars per dozen bottles (quarts), and also collected an additional duty of three cents upon each of the bottles containing the champagne.
In this, we think, he complied with the statute, both in its terms and in its spirit.
1. The language of the statute seems to require this construction. It is proved and conceded that this champagne is wine. The statute imposes duties under three heads: 1. On all wines imported in casks, of the value specified, and containing not more than twenty-two per cent of alchohol. 2. On wines of all kinds imported in bottles, not otherwise herein provided for, the same rate as upon wines imported in casks, and the bottles to pay three cents each in addition. 3. On ...