La tomate, la taxinomie et la Cour suprême des Etats-Unis

Abstract : Questions of daily life are likely to lead the judge to decide on the nature of an a priori "simple" element of daily life. This was particularly the case for tomatoes. The United States Supreme Court was confronted with this thorny issue more than a hundred years ago. In a decision Nix v. Hedden, the Supreme Court judges had to review the constitutionality of a customs law of 3 March 1883 that introduced a 10% tax on all vegetables imported into the United States. De facto, it did not apply to fruit. The New York State customs collector considered the tomato to be a vegetable, which resulted in a significant increase in revenue. This decision, which was the starting point of the study, raised questions about the authority of dictionaries in interpretation but also about the judge's relationship with the vernacular language, in particular by taking into account the social perception of the subject matter of the dispute. Indeed, in the majority opinion of the Court, Justice Horace Gray, after having found that the tomato was indeed a fruit (relying in particular on the Webster definition), concluded that since it was consumed essentially as a main course, it should be considered as a vegetable by the Court. This decision clearly shows the difficulties in interpreting the "real" and the limits of taxonomy in the context of interpretation. Translated with
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 7:12:50 AM
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Alexis Le Quinio. La tomate, la taxinomie et la Cour suprême des Etats-Unis. Droits, Revue française de théorie, de philosophie et de cultures juridiques, Presses Universitaires de France, 2017, PUF, pp. 189-204. ⟨hal-02082111⟩



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