The Supreme Court has, however, never held itself absolutely bound by a legislative or executive construction (political questions excepted) however long acquiesced in, or however nearly contemporaneous its first statement with the adoption of the Constitution.24
22 111 U. S. 53; 4 Sup, Ct. Rep. 279; 28 L. ed. 349.
23 See also Stuart v. Laird, 1 Cr. 299; 2 L. ed. 115.
24 In Swift v. United States (105 U. S. 691; 26 L. ed. 1108) the court say: "The rule which gives determining weight to contemporaneous construction put upon a statute by those charged with its execution applies only in cases of ambiguity and doubt."
"Contemporary construction," says Story, in his Commentaries (§ 407), "is properly resorted to, to illustrate, and confirm the text, to explain a doubtful phrase, or to expound an obscure clause; and in proportion to the uniformity and universal,ty of that construction, and the known ability and talents of those, by whom it was given, is the credit to which it is entitled. It can never abrogate the text; it can never fritter away the obvious sense; it can never narrow down its true limitations, it can never enlarge its natural boundaries."