Federal Common Law in Admiralty: An Introduction to the Beginning of an Exchange
Saint Louis University Law Journal, vol. 43, no. 1337, 1999. Reprinted with permission of the Saint Louis University Law Journal © 20__ and/or 19__,St. Louis University School of Law, St. Louis, Missouri.
12 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018
Date Written: December 6, 2018
Most scholars and practitioners of admiralty law have long relied upon two central assumptions regarding their subject. First, they have understood that uniformity was a requisite of maritime law such that, generally speaking, national, rather than state, law governed most maritime events and transactions. Second, they have believed that in order to preserve the uniformity of maritime law, federal admiralty courts are empowered to fashion federal common law. The commitment to these related propositions has been attested to or illustrated by a collection of Supreme Court decisions. For instance, in Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, the case that stands as the metaphor for the uniformity principle in admiralty, the Court said that federal admiralty law would displace state law which “works material prejudice to the characteristic features of the general maritime law, or interferes with the proper harmony and uniformity of that law in its international and interstate relations.”
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