Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jurisprudence Trumps Science

On May 10, 1893, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a lower court decision and declared the tomato to be a vegetable, not a fruit.

 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.
Image:  Wikipedia Commons


Vee said...

Never mind the proof! Biologically a fruit, legally a vegetable - you have to love our system of government. But it is still superior to the systems many people live under.

Secondary Roads said...

I wouldn't put tomato in a fruit salad. :)

vanilla said...

Vee, I need you for balance in my life when I start to fall off the deep end. But the right and privilege to criticise our government is one of the most wonderful things about it.

Chuck, but you do eat the fruit salad with the entree, not as a dessert? That would make the entire salad a vegetable dish.

Shelly said...

It takes a government to convolute something as naturally beautiful as a tomato.

vanilla said...

Shelly, but of course all in our best interests.