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Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of the Pacific Customs Brokerageÿ Company.

September 07, 1957

I AM WITHHOLDING approval of H. R. 1591, a bill for the relief of the Pacific Customs Brokerage Company of Detroit, Michigan.

The proposed legislation would provide for the payment of $29,502.55 to the beneficiary in full settlement of all claims against the United States arising out of an erroneous classification of baler twine which was imported at Detroit, Michigan, between May 5, 1950 and February 16, 1951. The Collector of Customs liquidated these entries at the rate of 15 percent ad valorem, the rate applicable under paragraph 1005 (b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as modified, in accordance with established and uniform practice for merchandise of this type. The importer failed to protest this ruling within sixty days after liquidation of the entry.

About a year after the entries had been liquidated, the Customs Court, in connection with the importation made by another importer, decided that similar merchandise was entitled to entry free of duty under paragraph 1622 of the Tariff Act. This decision was later affirmed by the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals. This interpretation of the law had no effect on the classification of the merchandise in H. R. 1591 since that duty determination had been made and had become final and binding.

The Congress has established a regular procedure for importers to contest the rate of duty and obtain a judicial determination by the Customs Court of the correct rate. This judicial review is obtained by filing a protest to the collector's decision within sixty days after it is made. No protest was filed by the Pacific Customs Brokerage Company. The Congress, in section 514 of the Tariff Act, has provided that if such a protest is not made within sixty days, the decision of the collector is final and conclusive upon the importer and all other persons, including the United States. This provision, like other statutes of limitations, is desirable to permit the final disposition of cases in an orderly manner.

The importer had a legal means to contest the classification decision but failed to do so within the terms of the statute. To grant relief in this situation would be inequitable and would discriminate against the hundreds of other importers who have paid duty based upon a construction of the law which the courts have subsequently decided would be erroneous.

For these reasons, I return the bill without my approval.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of the Pacific Customs Brokerageÿ Company. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233555

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