Sunday, May 18, 2014
The Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh case brief summary
The Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh (1851) opens the lakes and the waters connecting them to the general jurisdiction of the district courts in admiralty
• Collision on LakeOntario
• Schooner Cuba claims that the Genesse ran foul of her and damaged her so seriously that as a result she sank with her cargo on board
• Proceeding was in rem and in admiralty under Great Lakes Act of 1845 which extending the jurisdiction to the district courts to certain cases upon the lakes and navigable waters connecting the same
• Question of jurisdiction and constitutionality of the Great Lakes Act because it was narrower than the Constitution contemplated
• Law contains no regulation of commerce and it is evident from the title that Congress did not intend to exercise their power to regulate commerce
• Goes against Thomas Jefferson with ebb and flow of tide
• Court rejected tidal limit
• There is clearly nothing in the ebb and flow of the tide that makes the waters peculiarly suitable for admiralty jurisdiction, nor anything in the absence of a tide that renders it unfit
• There is commerce on the water and there need not be tide in the lake
NOTES: the constitutional grant of admiralty jurisdiction was not limited by tidelands rule
Admiralty jurisdiction is now extended to the lakes and navigable rivers of the US
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