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Cook v. United States

288 U.S. 102 (1933)

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Cook v. United States

United States Supreme Court

288 U.S. 102 (1933)

Facts

In 1920 the United States banned the import of liquor into the United States and, in 1922, passed the Tariff Act to authorize the Coast Guard to inspect and punish vessels found to be carrying liquor within 12 miles of the United States. In 1924 the United States signed a treaty with Great Britain (the 1924 treaty) that limited inspection to ships that could reach the United States coast within one hour. After the 1924 treaty was passed, the Treasury Department issued new instructions to the Coast Guard regarding the new jurisdictional requirements. In 1930 the United States reenacted the Tariff Act. After 1930, the Coast Guard inspected a British ship that was 11 miles from the United States and fined the captain, Frank Cook (defendant), for carrying liquor. Cook argued that the Tariff Act was superseded by the 1924 treaty and that because his ship was too slow to reach the United States in under one hour, the United States did not have jurisdiction to search the British ship. The government argued that the 1924 treaty did not modify or abrogate the Tariff Act and that the Tariff Act’s reenactment in 1930 removed any possible modification or abrogation.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brandeis, J.)

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