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The nature and extent of the admiralty jurisdiction were described in The Belfast (1869), 7 Wallace, 624, 637, in these words:
Principal subjects of admiralty jurisdiction are maritime contracts and maritime torts, including captures jure belli, and seizure on water for municipal and revenue forfeiture.
(1) Contracts, claims, or service, purely maritime, and touching rights and duties appertaining to commerce and navigation, are cognizable in admiralty.
(2) Torts or injuries committed on navigable waters, of a civil nature, are also cognizable in the admiralty courts.
Jurisdiction in the former case depends upon the nature of the contract, but in the latter it depends upon locality. Mistakes need not be made if these rules are observed; but contracts to be performed on waters not navigable, are not maritime any more than those made to be performed on land. Nor are torts cognizable in the admiralty unless committed on waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, as defined by law.
The meaning of the term "admiralty and maritime jurisdiction" is a judicial question and must be determined by the courts. They have found some difficulty in defining it because it is not peculiar to the jurisprudence of any one country and is differently understood in different countries. Its meaning must be determined by the objects to be obtained by the exercise of admiralty jurisdiction and by the general practice of the maritime world. The St. Lawrence (1862), 1 Black 522. It was natural that the rules developed in England should be followed in the United States. Hence the English rule that the jurisdiction of admiralty was limited to the ebb and flow of the tide was applied in The Thomas Jefferson (1825), 10 Wheaton, 428, and in United States v. Coombs (1838), 12 Peters, 72. But this definition would exclude from the admiralty jurisdiction such important navigable rivers as the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Missouri and such highways of commerce as the Great Lakes. Hence in a notable opinion by Chief Justice Taney, the Supreme Court in The Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh (1852), 12 Howard, 443, reversed its earlier decisions and held that the Great Lakes are within the admiralty jurisdiction. In Jackson v. Steamboat Magnolia (1858), 20 Howard, 296, it was held that a libel for a collision on the Alabama River above the tidal flow was within the admiralty jurisdiction. The court was also misled by a confusion of the admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal Government with its power over commerce. Since it had no control over commerce entirely within a State, it was held in Allen v. Newberry (1859), 21 Howard, 244, that a contract for the transportation of supplies between two ports of the same State was not a maritime contract. This confusion was manifest in Nelson v. Leland (1859), 22 Howard, 48, where the court said, "Our contracted views of the English admiralty, which was limited by the ebb and flow of the tide, were discarded, and the more liberal principles of the civil law, equally embraced by the Constitution, were adopted. This law is commercial in its character, and applies to all navigable waters, except to a commerce exclusively within a State."
But in The Belfast (1869), 7 Wallace, 624, the court entirely freed itself from this confusion and said, "Difficulties attend every attempt to define the exact limits of admiralty jurisdiction, but it cannot be made to depend upon the power of Congress to regulate commerce, as conferred in the Constitution. They are entirely distinct things, having no necessary connection with one another, and are conferred, in the Constitution, by separate and distinct grants." In Insurance Company v. Dunham (1870), 11 Wallace, 1, 25, the court took a comprehensive view of the geographical limits of admiralty jurisdiction and held that it extends "to all navigable waters of the United States, or bordering on the same, whether land-locked or open, salt or fresh, tide or no tide." A few weeks later, however, in The Montello (1871), 11 Wallace, 411, 415, it fell into its former error and said that the term "navigable waters of the United States" applies to all water ways which by themselves or in connection with others form a continuous highway for interstate or foreign commerce. In The Lottawanna (1875), 21 Wallace, 558, 577, the court speaks with some uncertainty as to the source of the power of Congress to amend the maritime law of the country saying that it has the power "under the commercial power, if no other." But in the case of In re Garnett (1891), 141 U. S. 1, 12, the court said, "The act of Congress which limits the liability of ship owners was passed in amendment of the maritime law of the country, and the power to make such amendments is coextensive with that law. It is not confined to the boundaries or class of subjects which limit and characterize the power to regulate commerce; but in maritime matters, it extends to all matters and places to which the maritime law extends."
On the same principle on which the admiralty jurisdiction has been held to extend to navigable rivers and lakes, it has been held to extend to a collision on a canal lying entirely in one State between boats on a voyage between two points in that State, Ex parte Boyer (1884), 109 U. S. 629. Likewise it has been held that, a contract for the repair of a canal boat while lying in a canal (in this case the Erie Canal) which is entirely within the limits of one State is a maritime contract. The Robert W. Parsons (1903), 191 U. S. 17. The two canals in these cases, while lying entirely in one State, were links in an interstate highway, but the result would apparently have been the same if they had had no interstate connection. The extension of the admiralty jurisdiction over waters lying entirely within a State does not oust the State of its general jurisdiction, United States v. Bevans (1818), 3 Wheaton, 336, and a vessel under attachment in a State court may not be sold on an order from a United States District Court in a libel for seamen's wages, Taylor v. Carryl (1858), 20 Howard, 583. The grant of admiralty jurisdiction to the Federal Government excludes the State courts from entertaining any action which is peculiar to admiralty procedure, such as an action in rem against a vessel, The Moses Taylor (1867), 4 Wallace, 411, but the States may create liens for the enforcement of maritime contracts, and such liens, though unenforceable in the State courts, will be given effect in Federal courts. The Lottawanna (1875), 21 Wallace, 558.
In the important case of Panama Railroad Co. v. Johnson (1924), 264 U. S. 375, was involved the validity of section 20 of the act of June 5, 1920, 41 Stat. 1007, which provides "that any seaman who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law, with the right of trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States modifying or extending the common-law right or remedy in cases of personal injury to railway employees shall apply." In discussing the power of Congress to modify the rules of maritime law, Mr. Justice Van Devanter said:
As there could be no cases of "admiralty and maritime jurisdiction" in the absence of some maritime law under which they could arise, the provision presupposes the existence in the United States of a law of that character. Such a law or system of law existed in Colonial times and during the Confederation and commonly was applied in the adjudication of admiralty and maritime cases. It embodied the principles of the general maritime law, sometimes called the law of the sea, with modifications and supplements adjusting it to conditions and needs on this side of the Atlantic. The framers of the Constitution were familiar with that system and proceeded with it in mind. Their purpose was not to strike down or abrogate the system, but to place the entire subjectits substantive as well as its procedural features-under national control because of its intimate relation to navigation and to interstate and foreign commerce. In pursuance of that purpose the constitutional provision was framed and adopted. Although containing no express grant of legislative power over the substantive law, the provision was regarded from the beginning as implicitly investing such power in the United States. Commentators took that view; Congress acted on it, and the courts, including this Court, gave effect to it. Practically therefore the situation is as if that view were written into the provision. After the Constitution went into effect, the substantive law theretofore in force was not regarded as superseded or as being only the law of the several States, but as having become the law of the United States, subject to power in Congress to alter, qualify or supplement it as experience or changing conditions might require. When all is considered, therefore, there is no room to doubt that the power of Congress extends to the entire subject and permits of the exercise of a wise discretion. But there are limitations which have come to be well recognized. One is that there are boundaries to the maritime law and admiralty jurisdiction which inhere in those subjects and cannot be altered by legislation, as by excluding a thing clearly falling within them or including a thing falling clearly without. Another is that the spirit and purposes of the constitutional provision require that the enactments,-when not relating to matters whose existence or influence is confined to a more restricted field, as in Cooley v. Board of Wardens,
12 How. 299, 319,-shall be coextensive with and operate uniformly in the whole of the United States.
In several cases the Supreme Court has emphasized that the Constitution contemplates a uniform system of maritime law. As the statute under discussion in Panama Railroad Co. v. Johnson did not impair that uniformity but provided for local variance in procedure by permitting an injured seaman to pursue his remedy derived from the maritime law either by an action at common law or by a suit in admiralty, it was held to be constitutional. But a State workmen's compensation act is inapplicable to injuries incurred in maritime employment, Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen (1917), 244 U. S. 205, nor may a State substitute the common-law rule as to damages for the admiralty rule, Chelantis v. Luckenbach Steamship Co. (1918), 247 U. S. 372, nor may Congress authorize the application of the workmen's compensation acts of the several States to injuries incurred in maritime employment, Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart (1920), 253 U. S. 149; Washington v. Dawson & Co. (1924), 264 U. S. 219. The able dissenting opinions of Mr. Justice Holmes and Mr. Justice Pitney in Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen and of Mr. Justice Brandeis in Washington v. Dawson & Co. throw much doubt upon the correctness of the decisions in those cases. They have been criticised in Palfrey, The Common Law Courts and the Law of the Sea, Harvard Law Review, XXXVI, 777; Dodd, The New Doctrine of the Supremacy of Admiralty over the Common Law, Columbia Law Review, XXI, 647; and MacIntyre, Admiralty and the Workmen's Compensation Law, Cornell Law Quarterly, V, 275.
On the distinguishing features of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, see De Lovio v. Boit (1815), 2 Gallison, 398; Waring v. Clarke (1846), 5 Howard, 441; The Genesee Chief (1851), 12 Howard, 1; United States v. Rodgers (1893), 150 U. S. 249; and the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Pitney in Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen (1917), 244 U. S. 205.
SECTION 3. JURISDICTION BASED ON THE NATURE OF THE
CHISHOLM, Executor, v. GEORGIA.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES. 1793.
[This was an action of assumpsit against the State of Georgia, which made a written protest against the court's taking jurisdition of the cause, but otherwise took no part in the argument. The judges delivered their opinions seriatim. Only that of the Chief Justice is here printed.]
JAY, Chief Justice. Let us now proceed to inquire whether Georgia has not, by being a party to the national compact, consented to be suable by individual citizens of another state. This inquiry naturally leads our attention, 1st. To the design of the constitution. 2d. To the letter and express declaration in it.
Prior to the date of the constitution, the people had not any national tribunal to which they could resort for justice; the distribution of justice was then confined to state judicatories, in whose institution and organization the people of the other states had no participation, and over whom they had not the least control. There was then no general court of appellate jurisdiction, by whom the errors of state courts, affecting either the nation. at large, or the citizens of any other state, could be revised and corrected. Each state was obliged to acquiesce in the measure of justice which another state might yield to her, or to her citizens; and that, even in cases where state considerations were not always favorable to the most exact measure. There was danger that from this source animosities would in time result; and as the transition from animosities to hostilities was frequent in the history of independent states, a common tribunal for the termination of controversies became desirable, from motives both of justice and of policy.
Prior also to that period, the United States had, by taking a place among the nations of the earth, become amenable to the laws of nations; and it was their interest, as well as their duty, to provide, that those laws should be respected and obeyed; in their national character and capacity, the United States were responsible to foreign nations for the conduct of each state, relative to the laws of nations, and the performance of treaties; and there the inexpediency of referring all such questions to state courts, and particularly to the courts of delinquent states, became apparent. While all the states were bound to protect each, and the citizens of each, it was highly proper and reasonable, that they should be in a capacity, not only to cause justice to be done to each, and the citizens of each, but also to cause justice to be done by each, and the citizens of each; and that, not by violence and force, but in a stable, sedate, and regular course of judicial procedure.
These were among the evils against which it was proper for the nation, that is, the people of all the United States, to provide