International Decision: Spector V. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd.
American Journal of International Law, Vol. 99, p. 881, 2005
7 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2006
In Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §12181 et seq., applies to foreign-flag cruise ships in U.S. waters, but does not require the removal of physical barriers if it would conflict with international legal obligations or compromise shipboard safety. In accommodating international law, the Court's decision effectively tracks the Charming Betsy canoni.e., "an act of Congress ought never to be construed to violate the law of nations if any other possible construction remains." But, the Court's failure to agree on a corresponding accommodation for international comity in cases where U.S. law would otherwise regulate a foreign ship's "internal affairs" brings further confusion to the question of which U.S. laws apply to such vessels, and, more generally, suggests further erosion of the primacy of flag state jurisdiction.
Keywords: international law, comity, charming betsy, flag state, jurisdiction, extraterritoriality
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K23, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation