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When the legislature adopts language to define and promulgate their action the just conclusion must be that they not only themselves comprehend the meaning of the language, but choose it with regard to those for whom it is designed to constitute a rule of commerce, namely, the community at large.
Under a law passed by the legislature, tariffs were imposed on vegetables. Plaintiff taxpayer was assessed tariffs on tomatoes. Plaintiff instituted the present suit against defendant government official challenging the assessment. Defendant filed a motion for directed verdict.
Was it proper to impose tariffs on tomatoes under a law imposing tariffs on vegetables?
The court directed a verdict for the government official. When the legislature adopted such language to define and promulgate their action, the just conclusion had to be that they not only themselves comprehended the meaning of the language, but choose it with regard to those for whom it was designed to constitute a rule of commerce, namely, the community at large. The community at large was the people of the United States. With regard to this particular community, the word "vegetable," in its popular and received meaning, was used to cover a class of articles which included tomatoes, and the word "fruit," irrespective of what the dictionaries might lay down as to its botanical or technical meaning, was not in common speech used to cover tomatoes.