Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another Did That

I posted this article a couple years ago under the title "Jurisprudence Trumps Science." The thing that motivated me to look it up and drag it forward was this. We finished the garden tomatoes at supper. Beautiful golden and red slicers, so tomatolicious. Summer time gives me the opportunity on occasion to toss in this little tidbit for the edification of the auditors. And 121 years later, it seems yet that suing the government is a zero-sum activity. The plaintiff is likely to get zero, and the cost to the defendant will likely be zero. The attys win, though.

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:  The Kitchen Table


Vee said...

When our older daughter was around two-years-old, trips through the countryside often meant arguments inside of our car. She insisted that horses were cows. I, of course, tried to correct and teach. She was, one might say, a little hard-headed.

I'm thinking that, had she been given the powers of the Supreme Court, we would now get steaks from one kind of cow and ride another.

At any rate, Indiana tomatoes have to be the most delicious found anywhere. Even though I have lived for many years where tasteless, rubbery things are marketed in grocery stores as tomatoes, my mouth still waters when I think about the delicious tomatoes our dad grew in his garden.

Grace said...

And condiments, like catsup, can be considered one of the required fruit/vegetable servings in a balanced said the gov't. Who knew tomatoes were so controversial? Google the history of tomatoes - edifying and amusing.

Secondary Roads said...

As one erudite observer noted:
Knowledge says tomato is a fruit
Wisdom says don't include it in fruit salad.

vanilla said...

Vee, and they could be called "corses" or "hows." I like the story.

Grace, I was administrator of a school that operated a cafeteria at the time the catsup-is-a-vegetable-serving pronouncement by the government. Was it not Humpty Dumpty who said, "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean"? Gov't = H.D.

Chuck, and the Supreme Court says it is a vegetable.

Sharkbytes said...

If there's money to be had anything can be defined to fit.

vanilla said...

Shark, I suspect that is true. I'll think on it a bit.