Romero's Enduring Legacy

Posted: 12 Mar 2008

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The true hallmark of the 1959 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Romero v. International Terminal Operating Company - and its most telling legacy - may be something that neither Justice Frankfurter fully intended in his majority opinion, nor that Justice Brennan, Cassandra-like, warned of in his dissent. When Frankfurter wrote that maritime law is not a monistic system, he unleashed, perhaps unintentionally, multiple pluralisms in the content and construction of this nation's maritime law. It is not just, of course, the division of power between state courts and federal tribunals in the fashioning of that law. It is also the unique juxtaposition of substantive law and jurisdictional competence not only in the text of the Constitution, but also in the every-day work of admiralty practitioners throughout the land. Romero is a tribute not only to the relevance of constitutional theory, but also the imperatives of practice, in making a coherent maritime law for all ages.

Keywords: Romero, federalism, saving to suitors, conflicts of law, choice of law, admiralty, maritime, jurisdiction, removal

JEL Classification: K19, K39, K41

Suggested Citation

Bederman, David J., Romero's Enduring Legacy. Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2008, Available at SSRN:

David J. Bederman (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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Atlanta, GA 30322
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