Choice of Law in Admiralty Cases: "National Interests" and the Admiralty Clause

This Article examines the subject of choice of law in admiralty cases, specifically whether federal or state law should be applied in cases that are within admiralty jurisdiction. It concludes that the decisions of the Supreme Court are inconsistent and present no guide to lower federal and state courts for resolving the choice-of-law issue. The Court has not formulated clear rules and has not developed a methodology that can be used by lower courts. This Article suggests that “uniformity” under the general maritime law and its corresponding displacement of state law is justified to promote “national interests.” Various “national interests” that underlie the Admiralty Clause of the Constitution are identified and discussed.