Admiralty Procedure and Jurisdiction After the 1966 Unification

From the nation’s beginning, the federal district courts have been vested with jurisdiction in cases “of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction.” Like its predecessor statute, section 1333 of the present Judicial Code asserts that the jurisdiction is “exclusive of the courts of the states,” but the infamous “saving clause” goes on to negate that exclusivity in the bulk of maritime cases by giving the plaintiff the option of maintaining his action in any other court having jurisdiction over it. In “saving clause” cases–that is, cases that could have been brought in federal court under the admiralty jurisdiction, but which were maintained, at plaintiff’s option, in nonadmiralty tribunals–the substantive federal maritime law continues to obtain, although procedural consequences vary.