Subject: Anchorage Rights
Message: It might be helpfulto be aware of what existing U.S. Law regarding navigation, and anchoring is an act of navigation. Unfortunately these cases are almost without exception prosecuted in state courts when there is an immediate filing in Admiralty Court, and only federal courts can sit in admiralty.
Admiralty and Maritime Synopsis
of a state’s right to refuse anchorage
1. What follows is what the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Law, and the Federal Courts say in regards to the rights of navigation, all of which is superior to any state or municipal, legislation.
a. U.S. Constitution, Article III, Sec 2.1
“The judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this constitution, the laws of the United States,…. (and) to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction…”
b. U. S. Supreme Court, Butler v. Boston Steamship Co. 130 US 557, 141 US 1, Detroit Trust Co. v. The Thomas Baslum 293 US 21, 42.
“As the constitution extends the judicial power of the United States to ‘all admiralty and maritime jurisdiction,’ and as this jurisdiction is held to be exclusive, the power of legislation on the same subject must necessarily be in the national legislature and not in the state legislatures.”
c. U.S. Supreme Court, Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart 253 US 149, 164
“Congress cannot transfer its legislative power to the states,--by nature this is nondelegable.”
d. U.S. Supreme Court, The J.E. Rumble 148 US 1, 12
“The admiralty and maritime jurisdiction is conferred on the courts of the United States by the Constitution, and cannot be enlarged or restricted by the legislation of a state, no state legislation, therefore, can bring within the admiralty jurisdiction of the national courts a subject not maritime in its nature. But when a right, maritime in its nature, and to be enforced by process in the nature of admiralty process, has been given by a statute of a state, the admiralty courts have jurisdiction, to enforce that right according to their own rules of procedure.”
e. U.S. Supreme Court, Lewis Blue Point Oyster
Cultivation Co. v. Briggs, 229 US 82
When overturning a lower court case the U.S. Supreme court said: “If the public right of navigation is the dominant right, and if, as must be the case, the title of the owner of the bed
of navigable waters hold subject absolutely to the public right of navigation, this dominant right must include the right to the use of the bed
of water for every purpose which is in aid of navigation.”
f. U.S. Supreme Court, Scranton v. Wheeler 179 US 141, 145
“It must from these constitutional principles, follow that the State of Michigan held the soil beneath her navigable rivers under a high public trust, to forever preserve them free as public highways, subject only to the power of Congress to regulate commerce among the states, ….The right of Congress to regulate commerce, and, as an incident, navigation, remains unaffected by the question as to whether the title to the soil submerged is in the state or is in the owner of the shores.”
g. U.S. Supreme Court, Sisson v. Ruby 497 US 358, 359
“…the need for uniform rules of maritime conduct and liability is not limited to navigation, but extends at least to any other activities traditionally undertaken by vessels commercial
or non commercial
h. U.S. Law 28 USC 1333
Admiralty jurisdiction covers every vessel under the American flag, whether it is on the ocean or within the boundaries of a state, no matter what size or means of propulsion
, or whether it is documented or not.
i. Federal District Court. Anderson v. Reames 161 S.W.2d 957, 961
“…’rights of navigation’ include the right to anchorage, which may be exercised for either business purposes or pleasure.”
j. Federal District Court. The Hubbard v. The Pollock 229 F. 837
“…but her master had a legal
right to select his own place to anchor
k. Federal District Court, Hayn v. Culliford 3 C.P.Eiv 417
“Navigation” for some purpose, includes a period when a ship is not in motion, as, for instance, when she is at anchor
l. U.S. v. Monstad, 134 F.2d 986, 988
A navigable seagoing barge, having been converted from a self propelled vessel to barge carrying fishermen but retaining her steering
apparatus and her hull
lines, which had been anchored at bay for a period of two years, for use by fishermen, is being “navigated”.
2. In researching federal admiralty law I found two cases which appear aberrations. Both of these cases were decided by the Ninth Federal District Court, which is the most overturned district court in the nation, and neither has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A court only considers what is brought before it. One must surely wonder what would have been the outcome had this case been argued on U.S. Constitutional grounds since admiralty and maritime jurisdiction comes directly from the constitution, has been judged by the U.S. Supreme Court to be exclusively federal and that all legislation must be federal, not state. And that such legislative authority cannot be delegated by congress to the states. It would appear in order to change this and allow the states to legislate and rule
in this area either the U.S. Constitution must be amended or the U.S. Supreme Court must change its present standing decision. In my judgment the two cases which follow are merely the expected result of poorly argued cases. A brief discussion of these two cases follows:
a. Beveridge v. City of Santa Barbara, U.S. Court of appeals, 9th Cir No.9055642.
In this case it was argued that the 1972 Ports
and Waterways Safety
Act and U.S. Coast Guard regulations preempt Santa Barbara from preventing anchoring. In this case the court concluded that they do not. Additionally the court addressed the fact that the area in question was a federally designated special anchorage area and reasoned that such an area is not an area where anchorage is permitted but it is merely an area where navigational lights are not required. This is clearly in error, a careful reading of the Inland Rules of the Road (federal law) require a vessel underway, or at anchor, to display navigational lights at night and in reduced visibility. It is only when a vessel, under 65 feet in length, is at anchor in a special anchorage area that it is not required to display lights. How can one uphold a judgment that concludes a special anchorage area is merely an area where navigational lights are not required and then deny the only condition under which by federal law such lights are not required?
b. Barber v. State of Hawaii
, 42 F.3d 1185 (9th Cir)
In this case it was argued that the federal government
had so occupied the area that they had preempted the states from controlling anchoring. The Court ruled that it had not. True, the congress has not preempted the states from this area but rather it is the U.S. Constitution itself which has.
3. A brief summary of the above:
a. U.S. Constitution defines the control of admiralty and maritime law.
b. Admiralty and Maritime jurisdiction is exclusively federal by a standing U.S. Supreme court ruling,
c. Anchoring is an act of navigation and a vessel at anchor remains in navigation, at least for a period of two years