Notwithstanding testimony to the contrary, and much reading from dictionaries by both parties to the dispute, ultimately Justice Horace Gray wrote the opinion for the court in which he essentially said that notwithstanding that all botanical references did seem to support its status as a fruit, because of its historical place on the dinner-table, eaten with the main course, not as a dessert, the tomato is a vegetable.
Some background might shed some light on this astounding turn of events. Under the Tariff Act of 1883, fruit were admitted duty free, whereas vegetables were not. The plaintiff had been paying, under protest, tariff on tomatoes and was therefore suing to recover said payments from the Collector of the Port of New York and to require such collections to cease.
Does it take a genius to figure out what is about to go down? Merchant vs. Government of the United States, essentially, though that is not the name of the case. What duly appointed and honest justice is going to rule contrary to the interpretation of the government? If the government says the tomato is a vegetable, the tomato is a vegetable. Case closed.
Case is Nix vs. Hedden, 1893.
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