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United States v. Perry
United States Supreme Court
146 U.S. 71 (1892)
The Tariff Act of 1890 provided that stained- or painted-glass windows that were imported into the United States were subject to a 45 percent ad valorem duty, that works of art—defined as ornamental paintings and sculptures—were subject to a 15 percent ad valorem duty, and that works of art imported for religious purposes were not subject to any duty. In 1890 an importer (defendant) brought stained-glass windows depicting biblical figures into the United States to be installed in the Covenant of the Sacred Heart in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The customs collector assessed a 45 percent duty on the imported windows. The importer appealed to the board of general appraisers (the board), arguing that the stained-glass windows were paintings imported for religious purposes and that they were exempt from any duties. The board affirmed the customs collector. The importer appealed the board’s decision to the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York. The circuit court reversed the board, holding that the stained-glass windows were paintings imported for religious purposes that could enter the United States duty-free. The United States government (plaintiff) appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)
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