United States v. Haggar Apparel Co., 526 U.S. 380, 9 (1999)

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next



Opinion of the Court

ject to the Secretary's approval. Treasury Dept. Order No. 165, T. D. 53160 (Dec. 15, 1952).

Respondent relies on the specific direction to the Secretary to make rules of classification for "the various ports of entry" to argue that the statute authorizes promulgation of regulations that do nothing more than ensure that customs officers in field offices around the country classify goods according to a similar and consistent scheme. The regulations issued under the statute have no bearing, says respondent, on the rights of the importer. We disagree. The phrase in question is explained by the simple fact that classification decisions must be made at the port where goods enter. We shall not assume Congress was concerned only to ensure that customs officials at the various ports of entry make uniform decisions but that it had no concern for uniformity once the goods entered the country and judicial proceedings commenced. The tariffs do not mean one thing for customs officers and another for importers. It is of course possible, even common, for agencies to give instructions or legal opinions to their officers and employees in one form or another, without intending to bind the public. Cf. Crandon v. United States, 494 U. S. 152, 177 (1990) (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment). The statutory authorization for the regulations in this case, we conclude, was not limited in this way. Like other regulations which help to define the legal relations between the Government and regulated entities, customs regulations were authorized by Congress at least in part to clarify the rights and obligations of importers.

Our conclusion is not altered by the circumstance that the United States Trade Representative (USTR), by delegation from the President, and the International Trade Commission (ITC) have certain responsibilities for recommending and proclaiming changes in the HTSUS. See 19 U. S. C. 3004(c), 3005, 3006; 3 CFR 443 (1992). These powers pertain to changing or amending the tariff schedules themselves; the Treasury Department and the Customs Service

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007