The Genesee chief v Fitzhugh case brief summary
Supreme Court 1851
Admiraly and maritime jurisdiction is confined to public navigable waters.
There was a collision on Lake Ontario between the Cuba which was on her from state of Ohio to New York state and the Genesee which was going up the lake.
Issue – Question of Jurisdiction
Issue: Whether the 1845 is constitutiona.
The proceeding is in rem, extending jurisdiction of the district courts to certain cases upon the lakes and navigable waters connecting the same.
The 1845 act contains no regulations of commerce; it merely confers a new jurisdiction on the district courts.
If this law is constitutional it must be supported on the ground that the lakes and navigable waters connecting them are within the scope of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.
The only objection made to the jurisdiction is that there is no tide in the lakes and it is said that admiralty and maritime jurisdiction is confined to the ebb and flow of the tide. As it is said in England.
However, if it is a public navigable water, on which commerce is carried on between different states or nations, the reason for the jurisdiction is precisely the same.
Thus the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction is confined to public navigable waters.
The lakes and waters connecting the states are undoubtedly public waters and are within the grant of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction in the constitution of the US.
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