United States v. Haggar Apparel Co., 526 U.S. 380, 8 (1999)

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Cite as: 526 U. S. 380 (1999)

Opinion of the Court

tion and its enabling statutes, respondent contends the regulation is limited in application to customs officers themselves and is not intended to govern the adjudication of importers' refund suits in the Court of International Trade. Second, in reliance on the authority and jurisdiction of the Court of International Trade, respondent argues that even if the Treasury Department did intend the regulation to bear on the determination of refund suits, the Court of International Trade is empowered to interpret the tariff statute without giving the usual deference to regulations issued by the administering agency.

As to the first set of arguments, respondent says the regulation binds Customs Service employees when they classify imported merchandise under the tariff schedules but does not bind the importers themselves. The statutory scheme does not support this limited view of the force and effect of the regulation. The Customs Service (which is within the Treasury Department) is charged with the classification of imported goods under the proper provision of the tariff schedules in the first instance. There is specific statutory direction to this effect: "The Customs Service shall, under rules and regulations prescribed by the Secretary [of the Treasury,] . . . fix the final classification and rate of duty applicable to" imported goods. 19 U. S. C. 1500(b). In addition, the Secretary is directed by statute to "establish and promulgate such rules and regulations not inconsistent with the law . . . as may be necessary to secure a just, impartial and uniform appraisement of imported merchandise and the classification and assessment of duties thereon at the various ports of entry." 1502(a). See also General Headnote 11, TSUS, 19 U. S. C. 1202 (1982 ed.) (authorizing the Secretary "to issue rules and regulations governing the admission of articles under the provisions" of the tariff schedules); General Note 20, HTSUS, 19 U. S. C. 1202 (same). The Secretary, in turn, has delegated to the Commissioner of Customs the authority to issue generally applicable regulations, sub-


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