« AnteriorContinuar »
PITNEY, J., dissenting.
the most complete effect to this power. Still, the general jurisdiction over the place, subject to this grant of power, adheres to the territory, as a portion of the sovereignty not yet given away." In Steamboat Co. v. Chase, supra, the court, by Mr. Justice Clifford, said (p. 534): "State statutes, if applicable to the case, constitute the rules of decision in common-law actions, in the Circuit Courts as well as in the State courts."
In Atlee v. Packet Co., 21 Wall. 389, 395, 396, the court, by Mr. Justice Miller, said: “The plaintiff has elected to bring his suit in an admiralty court, which has jurisdiction of the case, notwithstanding the concurrent right to sue at law. In this court the course of proceeding is in many respects different and the rules of decision are different.
An important difference as regards this case is the rule for estimating the damages. In the common-law court the defendant must pay all the damages or none. If there has been on the part of plaintiffs such carelessness or want of skill as the common law would esteem to be contributory negligence, they can recover nothing. By the rule of the admiralty court, where there has been such contributory negligence, or in other words, when both have been in fault, the entire damages resulting from the collision must be equally divided between the parties.
Each court has its own set of rules for determining these questions, which may be in some respects the same, but in others vary materially.” And see The Max Morris, 137 U. S. 1, 10; Belden v. Chase, 150 U. S. 674, 691; Benedict Adm., $ 201.
In the prevailing opinion, great stress is laid upon certain expressions quoted from The Lottawanna, 21 Wall. 558, 574, but it seems to me they have been misunderstood, because read without regard to context and subject matter. That was an admiralty appeal, and involved the question whether by the general maritime law, as accepted in the United States, there was an implied lien for necessaries
furnished to a vessel in her home port, where no such lien was recognized by the municipal law of the State. In the course of the discussion, the court, by Mr. Justice Bradley, said: “That we have a maritime law of our own, operative throughout the United States, cannot be doubted. The general system of maritime law which was familiar to the lawyers and statesmen of the country when the Constitution was adopted, was most certainly intended and referred to when it was declared in that instrument that the judicial power of the United States shall extend 'to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.' But by what criterion are we to ascertain the precise limits of the law thus adopted? The Constitution does not define it. It does not declare whether it was intended to embrace the entire maritime law as expounded in the treatises, or only the limited and restricted system which was received in England, or lastly, such modification of both of these as was accepted and recognized as law in this country. Nor does the Constitution attempt to draw the boundary line between maritime law and local law; nor does it lay down any criterion for ascertaining that boundary. It assumes that the meaning of the phrase 'admiralty and maritime jurisdiction' is well understood. It treats this matter as it does the cognate ones of common law and equity, when it speaks of cases in law and equity,' or of 'suits at common law,' without defining those terms, assuming them to be known and understood."
In this language there is the clearest recognition that the Constitution, in establishing and distributing the judicial power, did not intend to define substantive law, or to make the rules of decision in one jurisdiction binding proprio vigore in tribunals exercising another jurisdiction. The courts of common law were to administer justice according to the common law, the courts of equity according to the principles of equity, and the courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction according to the maritime law.
PITNEY, J., dissenting.
The expression on page 575 respecting the uniform operation of the maritime law was predicated only of the operation of that law as administered in the courts of admiralty, for it is not to be believed that there was any purpose to overrule Atlee v. Packet Co., 21 Wall. 389, 395, decided at the same term and only about two months before The Lottawanna by a unanimous court including Mr. Justice Bradley himself, in which it was held that where there was concurrent jurisdiction in the courts of common law and the courts of admiralty each court was at liberty to adopt its own rules of decision. Moreover, the principal question at issue in The Lottawanna was whether the case of The General Smith, 4 Wheat. 438, should be overruled, in which it had been held that, in the absence of state legislation imposing the lien, a ship was not subject to a libel in rem in the admiralty for repairs furnished in her home port. The general expressions referred to relate to that state of the law—the absence of state legislation, as well as of legislation by Congress and upon this the decision in The General Smith was upheld (p. 578). But in proceeding to discuss the subordinate question whether there was a lien under the state statute, it was held (p. 579): “It seems to be settled in our jurisprudence that so long as Congress does not interpose to regulate the subject, the rights of material-men furnishing necessaries to a vessel in her home port may be regulated in each State by State legislation.” And again (p. 581): “Whatever may have been the origin of the practice, and whether or not it was based on the soundest principles, it became firmly settled, and it is now too late to question its validity.
It would undoubtedly be far more satisfactory to have a uniform law regulating such liens, but until such a law be adopted (supposing Congress to have the power) the authority of the States to legislate on the subject seems to be conceded by the uniform course of decisions."
PITNEY, J., dissenting.
Again, in Workman v. New York City, 179 U. S. 552, which, like The Lottawanna, was a proceeding in admiralty, the court, in quoting the declarations contained in that case respecting the general operation of the maritime law throughout the navigable waters of the United States, was dealing only with its application in the courts of admiralty. This is plain from what was said as a preface to the discussion (p. 557): “In examining the first question, that is, whether the local law of New York must prevail, though in conflict with the maritime law, it must be borne in mind that the issue is not-as was the case in Detroit v. Osborne (1890), 135 U. S. 492—whether the local law governs as to a controversy arising in the courts of common law or of equity of the United States, but does the local law, if in conflict with the maritime law, control a court of admiralty of the United States in the administration of maritime rights and duties, although judicial power with respect to such subjects has been expressly conferred by the Constitution (Art. III, sec. 2) upon the courts of the United States."
In the argument of the present case and companion cases, emphasis was laid upon the importance of uniformity in applying and enforcing the rules of admiralty and maritime law, because of their effect upon interstate and foreign commerce. This, in my judgment, is a matter to be determined by Congress. Concurrent jurisdiction and optional remedies in courts governed by different systems of law were familiar to the framers of the Constitution, as they were to English-speaking peoples generally. The judicial clause itself plainly contemplated a jurisdiction concurrent with that of the state courts in other controversies. In such a case, the option of choosing the jurisdiction is given primarily for the benefit of suitors, not of defendants. For extending it to defendants, removal proceedings are the appropriate means.
Certainly there is no greater need for uniformity of
PITNEY, J., dissenting.
adjudication in cases such as the present than in cases arising on land and affecting the liability of interstate carriers to their employees. And, although the Constitution contains an express grant to Congress of the power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, nevertheless, until Congress had acted, the responsibility of interstate carriers to their employees for injuries arising in interstate commerce was controlled by the laws of the States. This was because the subject was within the police power, and the divergent exercise of that power by the States did not regulate, but only incidentally affected, commerce among the States. Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U. S. 99, 103; Second Employers' Liability Cases, 223 U. S. 1, 54. It required an act of Congress (Act of April 22, 1908, c. 149, 35 Stat. 65) to impose a uniform measure of responsibility upon the carriers in such cases. So, it required an act of Congress (the so-called Carmack Amendment to the Hepburn Act of June 29, 1906, c. 3591, 34 Stat. 584, 595) to impose a uniform rule of liability upon rail carriers for losses of merchandise carried in interstate commerce. Adams Express Co. v. Croninger, 226 U. S. 491, 504. In a great number and variety of cases state laws and policies incidentally affecting interstate carriers in their commercial operations have been sustained by this court, in the absence of conflicting legislation by Congress. Among them are: Laws requiring locomotive engineers to be examined and licensed by the state authorities, Smith v. Alabama, 124 U. S. 465, 482; requiring such engineers to be examined for defective eyesight, Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Ry. V. Alabama, 128 U. S. 96, 100; requiring telegraph companies to receive dispatches and transmit and deliver them diligently, Western Union Telegraph Co. v. James, 162 U. S. 650; forbidding the running of freight trains on Sunday, Hennington v. Georgia, 163 U. S. 299, 304, 308, etc.; regulating the heating of passenger cars, New York, New Haven & Hartford R. R. Co. v. New York, 165 U. S.